Indy woman survives Hurricane Irma in St. Thomas

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INDIANAPOLIS, IND-- A Hoosier woman returned to Indiana Friday after she was stuck in St. Thomas when Hurricane Irma hit.

Laura Kappel said after her July wedding there, she returned at the end of August to have her ring fixed after she lost a diamond on it. But she was not able to get a flight off of the island before the storm hit.

"I really though for sure I wasn't gonna make it," Kappel said.

She evacuated from her hotel to another resort on the island.

"We went down in the bunker, we were in the eye of the storm," she said.

"I went a week without sleep," her husband, Mike Kappel, said of their limited communication. "Didn't know if she was you know alive or what was going on."

Kappel said after 12 hours they were able to come out of what she described as a bunker. Though she was okay, she said the island looked like a war zone.

"What was once a beautiful island is just total disaster," she said.

The hurricane left a path of devastation. Indiana Task Force One members saw it first hand while helping in the Florida Keys.

"One of our main purposes was to go through and search every neighborhood in the Florida Keys to make sure that everyone was accounted for," Michael Pruitt, the public information officer for the task force team, said.

"I've been to some other hurricanes and have seen the damage and this was probably if not the worst that I had seen in going to those storms as far as the overall damage within those islands," he said.

But after returning home Sunday evening, the team now has it's eye on Hurricane Maria.

The U.S. Virgin Islands also said it's preparing for any potential impact.

While the Kappel's are not in the islands now, their thoughts remain with all those left there.

"Half the people lost their homes, their boats, their dogs, their family," Laura Kappel said. "I was able to survive all through that and I'm very blessed."

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