NMSU Student Experiences Hurricane Maria’s Wrath Firsthand

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NMSU Student Experiences Hurricane Maria’s Wrath Firsthand

This picture shows some of the destruction NMSU student Jordan Apel witnessed while trying to endure Hurricane Maria. Photo courtesy of Apel.

This picture shows some of the destruction NMSU student Jordan Apel witnessed while trying to endure Hurricane Maria. Photo courtesy of Apel.

This picture shows some of the destruction NMSU student Jordan Apel witnessed while trying to endure Hurricane Maria. Photo courtesy of Apel.

This picture shows some of the destruction NMSU student Jordan Apel witnessed while trying to endure Hurricane Maria. Photo courtesy of Apel.

This year’s hurricane season was very intense with three major hurricanes in Harvey, Irma and Maria, battering the Gulf of Mexico and causing major destruction.

The most recent hurricanes, Irma and Maria, caused major damage on the US Virgin Islands, where several NMSU students participated in an exchange program with the University of the Virgin Islands St. Croix.

Jordan Apel was attending the University of the Virgin Islands St. Croix as an exchange student from NMSU when hurricanes Irma and Maria hit the island.

“Hurricane Maria was by far the most devastating of the two storms that hit the Virgin Islands.” Apel said. “Hurricane Irma felt like a storm we would have in New Mexico but Hurricane Maria was truly terrifying experience.”

When Hurricane Maria first hit St. Croix, Apel and her roommate were in their dormitory in an attempt to wait out the storm. According to Apel, the storm started collapsing the ceilings of dormitories across the campus leading to the evacuation of students.

“When the ceiling collapsed my roommate and I hid in our closet until we evacuated with some of the other students.” Apel recollected. “When we tried to move many of us where picked up by the strong winds, so we had to link arms to keep everyone together and even then it was tough to get around. Every two steps forward was another four steps back in that wind.”

Apel described the island before the storm as being very lush and green with trees covering the island. Apel stated that the morning after the storm, all you could see was the ocean and where dead trees had been uprooted or snapped in half.”

According to Apel, the city of St. Croix was severely damaged because of Hurricane Maria. Frederiksted Pier was the hardest hit with many of its buildings either reduced to rubble or completely flooded. Many residents were left without clean water and power for weeks in the wake of the storm.

“We had power on campus, but we didn’t have running water for three days on. We were really fortunate to be in that position because there were a lot of people in St. Croix who still didn’t have running water of power.” Apel explained . There was only one place in town that had any sort of reception, so everyone went down there to make phone calls and try to communicate to the outside world.”

With flights in and out of the Island cancelled Apel and many other students were stuck on the US Virgin Islands for two weeks before they were evacuated by a Royal Caribbean cruise ship. “Originally we didn’t know if we were getting off the Island until a week before the cruise ships came; even then we didn’t know who was getting evacuated. There was a list that was sent out that only had my roommate and I from the University on the list, but when the ships came they took everyone who went to evacuate.”

According to Apel, the Royal Caribbean cruise ship took a total of 2000 evacuees from the surrounding islands including 1000 from Puerto Rico, 150 from St. Thomas and 850 from St. Croix.

Jordan Apel is safe and back in the United States today but is taking the rest of the semester off.

“The classes I was taking back at the University of the Virgin Islands St. Croix weren’t being offered at the home campus this semester so I decided to take the rest of the semester off.” Apel stated this will put her a semester behind then she initially anticipated.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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