Boise woman back home after escaping Hurricane Irma in the Caribbean

Posted at 2:39 PM, Sep 10, 2017
and last updated 2017-09-10 20:11:31-04

A Boise State student is back home after escaping Hurricane Irma in the Caribbean. 21-year-old Mattie Gortat of Boise was on Saint Thomas Island when one of the most powerful storms ever recorded in the Atlantic hit the island. 

"It was a lot worse than we expected it to be, I don't think I've been more scared in my life," said Mattie Gortat who escaped Hurricane Irma. 

The nursing student says she and some of her friends rode out the storm in a bathroom.

"By the time we made the decision to get her out it was too late, all the flights were booked we just couldn't get her out" explained Mattie's mom Sharae Roper. 

After the storm had passed, Mattie was able to see the destruction first hand. 

"It was devastating everything was just a mess, every telephone pole was on the ground there were cars that were flipped over. All the houses around us all of their roofs came off, we were actually the only house in that area that kept our roof," explained Gortat. 

Mattie says she and her friend Alex Demoor of Canada were walking around the island when Alex slipped and hit her head. With the hospital in Saint Thomas damaged, Mattie and Alex were rescued by the U.S Coast Guard and flown to San Juan, Puerto Rico. Mattie says she had to leave with just the clothes on their backs and didn't even have shoes. 

"It was an emotional rollercoaster, I was crying a lot.  Pretty much every phone I could get to I was calling my mom," said Gortat.  

In San Juan, Mattie Stayed with her friend at the hospital. She says a local journalist and an ABC News team, helped her by giving her a pair of shoes, a phone charger and acted as translators with the hospital staff.

Mattie Flew out of San Juan Friday and stayed in Baltimore over night. She arrived back in Boise Just after midnight on Sunday morning. Alex also flew home and is now recovering in a Canadian Hospital. Mattie's family was waiting for her at BOI when she landed. Mattie says she wants to go back to Saint Thomas soon to help her friends.

"If I can go back and help or do anything anytime soon I definitely will go," said Gortat.