County native weathers Hurricane Irma while in school on St. Kitts

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Editor’s Note: There are many personal connections to the recent devastation of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, but sitting directly in the path of Irma was Switzerland County native Ashley Green. Ashley is a 2011 graduate of Switzerland County High School and earned her degree from Purdue University.

The daughter of Greg and Jenny Green of near East Enterprise, Ashley is currently in veterinary school at the Ross School of Veterinary Medicine on the Island of St. Kitts, which was one of the islands in the Caribbean that Irma passed directly over. Ashley was home recently for the Swiss Wine Festival, and just returned to the island just prior to the hurricane hitting.

Vevay Media Group reached out to Ashley to share her experiences via email; and here is her first hand account of last week’s events:

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I knew about the hurricane the Friday before I flew back to the island. My flight was scheduled to take off from Louisville at 7a.m. Saturday morning, and I decided that I was going to keep my flight and head back to the island.

I was too afraid that if I didn’t go back I would have a hard time getting back later, since the hurricane was also predicted to hit Florida; and also my dog was on the island and I wanted to be there for her during the storm.

When I got back to the island, my roommate, Genni, and I went to the store and got canned food and a bunch of bottles of water. Then we put duct tape X’s on all of our windows just in case something flew in and broke them, some of the glass would be caught. We also filled up our bathroom trash cans, a pitcher, our animal food bin, and the washing machine with water so we could flush the toilets if the water went off.

The school gave us the option of sheltering there, but we decided to wait out the storm at our apartment, since it’s uphill from the ocean and has concrete walls. They provided some food and water for the students who did decide to shelter there. They also had a meeting Monday afternoon at the school to go over some hurricane safety.

There were some students who did evacuate the island prior to the hurricane, but my roommate and I decided to wait it out because once again we didn’t know how soon we would be able to get back and since both my dog and her cat have never had a rabies vaccine – since St. Kitts is a rabies-free country – they wouldn’t have been allowed into the U.S.

It started to get a little windy outside around 8 p.m. My roommate, our neighbor and myself were all hanging out in our apartment watching movies on Netflix waiting for the storm to hit. It was pretty calm until around 3 a.m. The wind really started to pick up and it started raining pretty hard. Then the power went out and I looked out our front screen door and a power line came down and the sky was lit up like the 4th of July with all the sparks coming off the power line.

That’s when I decided it was time to shut the door.

At the time that the power line fell and the sparks went up, we also notice that one of our security lights came lose from the pole it was on and it was spinning around by its electrical cord. Also, when we were using the generator it started to overheat, so our landlord only left it on from 6pm to 7am so we had power at night but not during the day. This started on Friday.

Then we all moved into Brittani’s, our neighbor, apartment because it had less windows. We stayed in there until about 6:30 a.m., when it finally got light outside and we had moved out of the red band and into the yellow band on the radar. We decided it was safe enough for us to get a little sleep and we slept until noon, then checked outside to see what was going on. It had calmed down by then and we were in the clear.

Our electricity was off from 3 a.m. Wednesday until 8 a.m. Sunday. Our apartment complex has a generator, so we had power to our apartment but not enough power for us to have cable or Internet. Since my phone can’t make calls or send texts on the island, the only way I can communicate with people is via Internet. Luckily, Genni had International texting on her phone so all three of us could text our moms and let them know that we were okay and then they could update everyone else.

Our water got shut off at 6 p.m. on Tuesday and we didn’t get it back until 9 a.m. on Thursday, so it was a good thing we filled up all those containers with water.

When we went out to check out the island on Thursday, we saw quite a few tree limbs down and a lot of downed power lines. There were also some billboard-type signs that had been knocked down, and the golf course at the Marriott flooded some.

Overall there wasn’t too much damage, unlike the some of the other islands close to us. St. Martin, Antigua and Anguilla were some of the places that were severely damaged by the hurricane and they had to evacuate. I don’t believe we are getting assistance from anyone but I do know that they are evacuating people here from other islands.

Some of the Medical School students from St. Martin have come here, and our school has been collecting donations for them since the hurricane caused them to lose everything.

I felt like we were adequately prepared for what came. We took it seriously, but we didn’t panic and I think that really helped.

I’m down here going to Veterinary School at Ross University. I’ve been here for two years and I have four more months left. Then I will do a year of clinicals at a university somewhere in the states. I’m hoping Purdue. Coming here has been an unbelievable experience and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Living in a different culture has been very eye opening. I have learned how to adapt and to figure out creative ways to solve problems since we don’t always have the resources here we need.

I’ve learned so much from being here and Ross is a fabulous school and I would recommend it to anyone wanting to go into veterinary medicine.