Jonesborough woman found unharmed by National Guard in St. John after Irma

(WJHL) – Two days after we reported on a local woman who was reported as missing in St. John after Hurricane Irma, the woman’s sister told News Channel 11’s Justin Soto that she has been found safe.

According to Maureen Rheiner, of Jonesborough, her sister Coleen McAllister was found safe in St. John on Wednesday.

  • See also: Jonesborough woman’s sister missing in St. John after Hurricane Irma

The island of St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands is barely inhabitable after taking a direct hit by category 5 Hurricane Irma. Rheiner said her sister lives and works in St. John for half of the year and calls Jonesborough home the rest of the year.

Rheiner last heard from her sister on Saturday after the storm hit. McAllister described it to her as something she’d never seen before, with dangerous winds and extensive damage. Rheiner said her sister rode out the storm in a restaurant that had withstood hurricanes in the past.

Wednesday, Rheiner got the call she’d been waiting for.

“I was totally ecstatic when I saw her name come up,” Rheiner said.

Her sister Coleen’s name appeared on her iPhone Wednesday morning. It was a call from St. John.

“She told me she was safe,” Rheiner said.

McAllister was safe after a storm ripped through the island, destroying her home.

Rheiner said Monday’s News Channel 11 report led to results.

“When your story aired when I sent the link to this gal in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for Bob Corker that’s what turned the corner,” Rheiner said.

According to Rheiner, the U.S. National Guard arrived in St. John Wednesday and spotted Coleen. She said her sister lived in Coral Bay and was helping with people who were trapped or missing there. She was spotted in Cruz Bay.

“A national guardsmen went up to her and said “are you Coleen McAllister?” Rheiner said.

McAllister’s photo identification was then sent via satellite image to Washington D.C.

She described St. John to her sister as a war zone. “They have no running water, she says I haven’t had a shower in a week, the food is scarce,” Rheiner said.

The national guard is now helping people, like McAllister, get home.

“Now that I can look at these photos and I know that she’s okay I think I’ll actually get some sleep tonight,” Rheiner said.

She also told us she’s grateful she got to share her story.

“I want to thank you Justin and News Channel 11 for getting this out there on the air because I feel that you all made a huge difference,” Rheiner said.

“The Office of Foreign Affairs associated with Sen. Bob Corker had given a list of names to the National Guard who found her in Cruz Bay,” Rheiner told us. “They are planning evacuation plans now that the National Guard is on-site.”

McAllister’s dog Asa is also reported safe. She hopes her sister will be able to leave St. John in a few days, possibly on a cruise ship to Puerto Rico where she can then fly home.

Copyright 2017 WJHL. All rights reserved. 

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