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Randy Winston (aka Rati) of Pointe Michel has been homeless even before Hurricane Maria destroyed much of the island's housing stock. He has been living in a cave in Champagne, near Pointe Michel.

Rati said he went to his cave as usual on September 18, 2017. On that day he went to the hole in the mountain earlier than usual; he cooked and was getting ready for bed since he was aware of the approaching hurricane.

"I was in my cave during the passage of Hurricane Maria. I was warned by a friend that I should get out and seek shelter but I thought that I was in a safe zone and so did not bother with that advice," he said.

"It started to get dark; the rain was falling, the sea was rolling and getting dangerous. I had just cooked and I was getting ready to eat. But it was getting dangerous because the waves were starting to get into the cave and to where I was sleeping; so I left from the bed area and went to the front with the intention of leaving the area but I was trapped in the hole.

"I could not go anywhere; the wind was just extra strong making it impossible for me to move. The sea then took the pot of food I had cooked and all my belongings in the cave so I was stranded. I was alone, it was dark. The sea was ragging, and the winds were extra strong, dry wood was coming in my mouth so I say 'the sea want me' but I say 'no way'".

Rati said he climbed the rocks to escape death and stayed there until about 4am when the wind and rain subsided.

"The sea was still ragging and death was in my eyes. I was thirsty and cold and when I saw light, I jump down from the rocks and climbed to another side to escape. I went to the home of Daddy Jeff and met some people there. I was bleeding and all bruised and trembling. I was given some rubbing alcohol to clean my cut and a cup of coffee," Rati said.

"When it got much brighter, I left and walked to La Pointe (Pointe Michel). I was suffering for me that night and getting to La Pointe was rough as I had to pass through fallen trees, rocks and all kinds of stuff.

"I need a place to stay; I won't go back to that area anymore. I never expected that hurricane to be so bad. I felt like I was going to dieā€¦all I had on me that night was a vest and a short pants. I have survived the hurricane and I am very thankful to God for that."


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