Barry University charters faculty, students in St. Croix to South Florida ahead of Hurricane Maria

Miami Shores campus serves as makeshift shelter to evacuees

MIAMI SHORES, Fla. – A charter plane carried Barry University faculty and students in the U.S. Virgin Islands to safety Monday ahead of Hurricane Maria.

Sister Linda Bevilacqua, president of Barry University, was beyond relieved that she was able to get the majority of the faculty and students of the physician assistant program in St. Croix off the island before Hurricane Maria struck.

"I thought we were going to stay there," student Joey Tippets told Local 10 News.

Maria grew from a tropical storm to a Category 5 hurricane in less than 24 hours.

Bevilacqua made the decision Sunday night to get everyone out because of the lack of available and affordable commercial flights.

"As soon as we learned that, we began to explore a charter because we knew that was the only way we could get them out," she said.

A total of 64 people, and even their pets, made the flight to Miami International Airport. It arrived Monday night.

About half got on connecting flights home. Another 31 were bused to the Miami Shores campus, about 25 of them staying in conference rooms and dorm rooms turned into makeshift shelters.

"I'm very thankful," Trevor Davis said. "It was great. They flew us here for free. They're going to put us up, feed us."

Mica Adair is among those who made the trip. She had to leave her husband, who works in the hotel industry, behind.

"It's going to be good to be safe, but I wish he was here too," Adair said.

Some students and a handful of faculty members native to the islands decided to stay behind and ride out the storm.

About the Author: