Oakland Co. Woman On St. Kitts Experiences Hurricane Irma

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As it stands, Hurricane Irma is pushing west into the Bahamas, causing widespread damage on many islands, including St. Martin, St. Kitt’s and others.

That’s where a young woman from Southfield, Michigan was as Irma passed over her.

“Every short wave brought a little bit of panic because that’s when it is going to start,” says Alicia Sweeney, who lives in Basseterre.

Alicia Sweeney was and still is studying veterinarian medicine at Ross University on the island of St. Kitts.

She was among the first to experience the category 5 hurricane.

“There wasn’t really an impending hurricane coming our way, so there weren’t any warnings or watches or anything like that,” Sweeney says. “My landlord assured me that my home was sturdy enough.”

But she said as it inched its way closer, fear and preparations became more serious.

“I’m from Michigan so I have never been through a hurricane, let alone a category 5 hurricane,” Sweeney says. “I have friends from Florida who have prepared before, so they just told us to get stocked up on food water as much as we could.”

She remembers the storm coming in waves, at first.

Then, right before it hit, the sky grew calm.

“The sunset was incredible,” Sweeney says. “The sky was purple and pink and blue and it was just…an incredible sunset. It almost made us more on edge. It was the calm before the storm.”

All the while, Sweeney says she talked with people nearby.

She also helped her landlord fortify her apartment building.

“The students were nervous,” Sweeney says. “Not necessarily the locals. I don’t think the locals were nervous until it went up to a Category 5. We were actually supposed to get a more direct hit but it went north at the very last minute so we got lucky as St. Martin didn’t.”

The storm smashed into St. Martin, leveling buildings and killing at least four people.

“It’s just a half-hour plane ride north of us,” Sweeney says. “The rain and the wind were just so…it was just so hard and so loud. That’s what got a lot of people.”

Not many could leave.

“We have to fly through an international airport, so most students go to Miami,” Sweeney says. “So if you went to Miami, you essentially have to fly somewhere else.”

Thankfully, no one on St. Kitts was hurt.

“I was assured that I would be okay and that our windows were shatter-proof,” Sweeney says. “Almost all of the buildings here are made of cement. They are meant to withstand hurricane winds.”

As she watches Irma approach the U.S. from afar, she warns everyone: don’t mess with Irma.

“People in Florida, yes, they ordered a mandatory evacuation but I’m not sure they are taking it seriously enough,” Sweeney says. “I don’t wish this hurricane on anybody. She’s not happy. She’s coming for a lot of people and I hope everybody stays safe.”