Idaho doctor trapped on St. Thomas after Irma - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Idaho doctor trapped on St. Thomas after Irma

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ST. THOMAS -

Hurricane Irma is expected to make landfall in Florida Sunday, triggering millions of evacuations as people prepare. But before that, the massive storm devastated islands in the Caribbean, including St. Thomas, where one Idaho doctor is trapped.

Doctor Wendi Richardson travels to St. Thomas several times a year to work at a local hospital. She and four others from Orofino, Idaho, had no way off the island as Irma barreled toward them. As the storm went over the island, they all huddled in the bathroom of the hotel room they were staying in for three hours.

"At first I don't think we knew what we were in for," Dr. Richardson said. "We could hear all kinds of noises and water coming in the room, the whole building was shaking."

There were gusts up to 225 mph. When they left the bathroom, the room they were staying in was destroyed. The ceiling was collapsing in front of them, and cars even caught fire in the parking lot.

"The hotel was just a disaster," Dr. Richardson said.

The hospital where Dr. Richardson was working was destroyed, and patients were evacuated by the U.S. Coast Guard. At least four people were killed in the U.S Virgin Islands.

Right now, Dr. Richardson's hotel is operating off of a generator, but food and water are running out. The hotel has no running water.

Orofino Mayor Ryan Smathers has been in contact with the group trapped on St. Thomas.

"They've got a whole community behind them. If we can figure out any way to help them, we will," the mayor said.

Several cruise lines are sending ships to the island to pick up as many vacationers as they can who weren't able to leave before Irma hit on Wednesday. Those ships are expected to arrive by Monday.

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