Ocean City Today

Former OP resident returns after Maria destroys everything

By Katie Tabeling | Sep 28, 2017
Courtesy of: Shaun Christopher Mike Hindi is back in Ocean Pines this week, days after Hurricane Maria destroyed his rising business on Dominica – and all other possessions. The community is helping to get Hindi back on his feet with the “Mike Hindi Rescue Mission” fundraiser on gofundme.com.

(Sept. 29, 2017) Mike Hindi uprooted his life in Worcester County earlier this year to open a beach restaurant in Dominica.

He came back this week after surviving on the Caribbean island for several days after Hurricane Maria ravaged it.

“He lost everything in the storm – his clothes, his credit cards and the roof of his apartment caved in,” Shaun Christopher, Hindi’s half-brother, said. “He flew out on Wednesday and he’s back in our grandfather’s home in Ocean Pines.”

Christopher launched the “Mike Hindi Rescue Mission” fundraiser on GoFundMe.com last week to raise $5,000. He planed to fly to the closest island, rent a boat and attempt to find his brother.

The focus of the fundraiser was later changed to help get Hindi back on his feet. The campaign reached $2,590 of $5,000 goal during its first four days.

“We were hoping to raise a little money, because he literally lost all his possessions, and the response has been amazing so far,” Christopher said.

In May, Hindi moved to Pointe Michel, a small town on Dominica’s coast that was hit hard by the storm last week. Hurricane Maria brought 180-mph winds and torrential rains, along with an island-wide blackout.

Fifty-nine people are dead, and for a moment Christopher thought his brother was included in that statistic. He last spoke with Hindi on Sept. 18, the day the cyclone intensified.

“We had no idea if he was alive or dead. We heard a rumor of someone matching Mike’s description, so I called the U.S. Embassy to give details about his tattoo. It wasn’t him,” he said. “That was a dark hour.”

When the storm collapsed the roof of his second-floor apartment, Hindi and his pit bull, Dallas, stayed downstairs with neighbors. He spent the next few days in that apartment with 15 other people, sleeping in a kitchen chair with Dallas in his lap, because the water was ankle-deep.

During the day, Hindi would earn his keep by scavenging for coconuts and fruit.

“He’d go out with a machete and Dallas, so he was protected from the looters,” Christopher said.

After two days, Hindi heard boats were being sent to Roseau, the capital, to evacuate people. He and his dog walked the seven miles to the city. The trek included swimming through mud slides and climbing over debris.

When Hindi reached Roseau, he tried to get on a boat, but he was repeatedly turned away because of his dog, Christopher said. Hindi would not leave Dallas behind. He was finally able to board a catamaran for a 90-mile boat ride to Saint Lucia after convincing the operator that Dallas would be no trouble. He stayed at the JJ’s Paradise Hotel.

“The one thing that Mike was heartened by, was that when the hotel staff saw how beaten his clothes were from the storm, they gave him a free shirt,” Christopher said. “He only had the shirt on his back [and his] boots and jeans [were] ripped from climbing. It was a great comfort to take a shower and just put on that fresh shirt.”

Hindi contacted his brother on Sept. 22, and the two have been texting as much as Dominica’s cell service will allow.

“I’m 10 years older than Mike. It was an interesting dichotomy growing up, since he was sort of like a son sometimes. But we’re the only boys in the family, so we’re very close,” Christopher said. “I wired him as much money as I could to help him buy clothing, fresh water, anything that he needs right now.

“I’m planning on taking him to my home [in Philadelphia] for a week, but after that, we don’t know what’s going to happen,” he continued.  “We’ve just had laser focus on getting him here.”

To donate to the Mike Hindi Rescue Mission, go to: www.gofundme.com/ mikehindi

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