Woman comes to Oklahoma after evacuating home in St. Croix before hurricanes hit

ADA, Okla. - A woman is taking shelter with her family in Oklahoma after she was forced to evacuate her home in Virgin Island, St. Croix, before Hurricane Irma. But it was Hurricane Maria that devastated the island she calls home, and she's voicing a need for aid in the U.S. territory.

The move from Ada to the island was a dream come true for the couple.

Saundra and Charles Dove moved to St. Croix after visiting seven years ago and have been working for it ever since.

"I think it was destiny," Saundra said.

But just months later, the island paradise already faced an imminent threat with Hurricane Irma fast-approaching.

Saundra's mother begged her to return to Oklahoma for the storm.

"She said, 'We've got to get you off of there,'" Saundra said.

The ticket home was four times the normal ticket price and it got Saundra on the second to last flight out.

Charles stayed back.

"I was like, 'I don't want to go and leave you here,' and he's like, 'I can take care of things here if I know you are safe,'" she said.

Hurricane Irma flattened nearby islands, but St. Croix was relatively untouched with residents ready to help those left homeless nearby.

"It reminded my husband and I of Oklahoma, when a tornado goes through," Saundra said. "When the worst happens, everybody bands together to pick up the pieces."

But the Virgin Islands were immediately warned to brace for Hurricane Maria, and this one didn't miss St. Croix.

"All you can do is feel your house shaking and your walls bowing," Saundra said, comparing it to a tornado that took hours to pass.

"I just got a text message that said, 'I love you, honey, and I'm so glad that you're not here,'" she said. "And I'm thinking, 'Is he trying to say goodbye?' He said that it's the scariest eight hours he's ever spent in his entire life."

But he survived, and miraculously their home wasn't flattened.

The island, however, was ravaged, and with no power, little cell service, and no access to food and supplies, St. Croix is left in shambles.

"Our economy is based on tourism, and tourists do not travel to disaster areas which means basically we have no economy right now," Saundra said.

The islanders are working to open roads, and starting to pick up the pieces with little to no help from the mainland. She said it's hard not to feel forgotten.

"Yes we are strong and resilient, but right now we need help," she said. "We are U.S. citizens and we live on U.S. soil."

Saundra returns home Monday, and she's hoping aid will be on the way.

There are relief efforts for the Virgin Islands devastated through Red Cross, San Antonio Spurs player Tim Duncan's fundraiser, and Kenny Chesney's Love for Love City's campaign.