Med student escapes hurricane-ravaged island

 

CASCADE TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — A medical student who survived two  hurricanes in the Caribbean weeks apart has finally returned home to  West Michigan.

Andrew Droste was stranded for nine days on the island of Dominica.

“That’s him!” his mother yelled as he made his way down the hall at the Gerald R. Ford International Airport Thursday morning.

The long walk to the concourse was nothing compared to the nine days  on a Caribbean island essentially wiped out by a Category 5 hurricane.

“I made it. I made it,” Andrew Droste said as he hugged his mother.

“So many different emotions. I’m just so happy to see him,” Deb Droste said as she tried to hold back tears.

After days of worry, with little or no communications and  havoc-fueled confusion, Andrew Droste was able to leave the Caribbean  Wednesday.

“It’s all so surreal. When I heard the words, ‘Welcome to Grand Rapids,’ it truly hit me,” he said.

The 25-year-old Forest Hills Northern graduate is first-year student  at Ross University Medical School on the island of Dominica. He and his  classmates rode out Hurricane Irma on the tiny island nation in early September. Hurricane Maria was a different story.

“It was right on top of us. And it intensified so rapidly, no one truly was prepared for that devastation,” Droste said.

The sights and sounds were something he said he’ll never forget.

“Nails ripping out of roofing. Trees snap. Not branches but trunks  snapping. Concrete splitting. The glass shattering,” Droste said,  describing the height of the storm.

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