BSU student caught in St. Thomas during Hurricane Irma

Madison Gortat gave us a firsthand account of the storm.

BOISE - We have seen the video and photos of the mass destruction Hurricane Irma has caused.

But to witness the storm firsthand was absolutely terrifying, according to one Boise State student who was in St. Thomas when the Category 5 hurricane slammed into the island.

Madison Gortat got back to Boise safe late Saturday night.

Gortat says she's going to need a couple of weeks to decompress after this emotional roller coaster.

Gortat arrived in the Caribbean island on Aug. 14 and was supposed to stay there through mid-December as part of a national exchange program through BSU.

Her stay was cut short when Irma barreled into the island.

All exchange students were crammed into one dorm, except for Gortat and her friend Alexandra De Moor.

“We met some boys on the island a week or two before and they came and picked us up with all of our stuff beforehand to stay with them because they had a really good safe place to be, a concrete home surrounded by concrete houses,” said Gortat.

After boarding up the windows, the brunt of Irma hit.

“We actually laid down in the shower with mattresses over our bodies but once it calmed down a little bit, we were able to look out the window," recalls Gortat. "There were things just flying everywhere, all the tress were coming down, the roofs around the house that we were in were coming off. I don't think I have ever been that scared ever in my entire life, it was just so loud and our ears were popping from all of the pressure and every few seconds things would just be smashing into the house. We didn't know if the roof was going to come off or not and then the house flooded a little bit, but not too much.”

After the storm passed, Gortat and her friend went to check out the wreckage. Both were sitting on a seven-foot ledge when De Moor slipped.

“It was really bad, she was just in and out of consciousness. We were pouring water on her legs just to keep her awake and then once we were able to bring her down to the ambulance, she came too and was okay," said Gortat.

Gortat and De Moor were picked up by the coast guard the next day and flown home.

“I do feel somewhat guilty that I got off the island and not everybody else,” admits Gortat.

Gortat says her peers who took shelter in the dorm were unharmed but it’s unclear how long they will have to stay.

Meanwhile in Florida, former Boisean Amy Compton weathered out the storm in her Palm Beach County apartment.

Compton’s home was not damaged but she says the whole town is short on supplies.

“It takes a little while for the grocery stores to get restocked and the gas stations to get more fuel,” said Compton.

© 2017 KTVB-TV


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