Maryville College students share relief as Florida loved ones rebuild after Irma

MARYVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – While concerns for communities in Irma’s path have been growing for days, there are kids in East Tennessee worrying about their parents.

This semester, a number of Maryville College students who call Florida home, have been reaching out to their loved ones in Florida as they evacuate or barricade their homes.

The rain and wind from Hurricane Irma was coming through as text messages on Rachel Taylor’s phone from her family in Palm Harbor.

“They boarded up the windows and did everything they could preparation-wise, got water, got a generator, and they rode it out,” said Taylor.

“All my friends are good, my family’s good, and that’s all you can really hope for in a situation like this,” added Andrew Garcia of Miami.

Each student at Maryville College is from a different part of Florida and each region was touched differently by the storm.

“Neighbors have said that there’s minimal damage, not a big deal just the neighborhood’s a wreck, a lot of debris,” said John Carpenter of West Palm Beach.

“There’s a lot of damage, a lot of trees on the road, by downtown which is right by the beach is flooded,” said Dante Hoppa of Naples.

Students have stories of loved ones evacuating which took two days to get to safety. At the same time there are stories of concern that grew as the storm passed over their hometowns.

“They’ve never left for a storm. They were there for Andrew, they were there for Wilma, and for some reason I think they like it,” said Winn Allen of Plantation.

Last year at this time, a hurricane was passing through the Bahamas. LaKwan Bain of Nassau says communities in his country are still rebuilding. As Hurricane Irma inched closer to his hometown there was anxiety being so far away.

“There was a definite sigh for relief that they didn’t have to go through as much as they anticipated. because of course leading up to the storm there was a lot of grocery shopping and one of our major bakeries said they sold 25,000 loaves of bread in one day,” he said.

As communities damaged in Irma’s path begin rebuilding, students like Bain know their cities will be okay because they’re “Strong and prepared because it comes with the territory.”

Maryville College has two students studying abroad in Puerto Rico. They had to go to a hurricane shelter during the storm, but thankfully they’re safe and have been able to return to their apartments near campus.

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