Students return home to Colorado after surviving Hurricane Maria

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DENVER -- Several medical school students are back home in Colorado after surviving the wrath of Hurricane Maria as it pummeled the small, Caribbean island of Dominica.

Yasmine Bargoti and Shane Burnette both attend Ross University School of Medicine in Portsmouth, Dominica, a small town on the island's western shore.

Both had not evacuated Dominica before Hurricane Maria made landfall, because it was only projected to be a Category 2 storm. Hours before IT reached the island, however, the storm intensified to a Category 5 hurricane.

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"I peeked through my window and I could just see roofs being blown off of our other houses. Thick trees were being snapped like pieces of paper," said Burnette. "I was definitely scared."

Yasmine Bargoti took shelter in a bathroom for six hours as the storm passed over the island.

"I was trying to stay calm because I wasn't truly sure what was going on outside, but it was scary, and you hear things flying around. It was so loud," she said.

Both Yasmine and Shane survived the hurricane, but neither was prepared for the devastation the storm left behind.

"Everything was gone. I just looked outside and I was like, this can't be real life. Everything was decimated," said Yasmine.

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"I didn't even know how to comprehend what was going on because it was a completely different island. There were no trees, no leaves. Every single tree branch was destroyed. It looked like an apocalyptic event," added Shane.

However, both students say the human toll was even worse. More than two dozen people were killed, but many more remain missing. Most homes on the island were destroyed.

"The people there don't have anything left and the resources are slow to come because people don't know about Dominica," said Yasmine.

Shane and Yasmine were eventually rescued by boat, and not just any boat.

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"The boat was a pirate ship named Black Magic," said Yasmine.

It was a surreal end to a surreal experience, and one that continues to haunt them.

"The worst feeling ever was leaving that island and knowing I got to go home while leaving those people with absolutely nothing. I do feel guilt and I won't stop helping until they're rebuilt," said Yasmine.

If you'd like to help the people of Dominica here are several ways you can do that.

Yasmine Bargoti has also written extensively about her experience on the island in her blog which you can find here.

 

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