By Nina Moini

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Wins of 185 miles per hour with Hurricane Irma devastated the once idyllic St. John and St. Thomas.

A Minnesota man who escaped Hurricane Irma shares his powerful plea to help the victims with our Nina Moini.

“We could hear the wind just howling outside. It was pounding,” Brad Arrington said.

Back in the comfort of his St. Louis Park home, 24-year-old Brad Arrington can’t help but think of those still in St. Thomas unable to escape catastrophe.

“After the storm passed and we were able to get out and walk the streets it is just truly heartbreaking,” Arrington said.

Hurricane Irma has killed dozens across the Caribbean. The strongest Atlantic Ocean hurricane ever measured, Arrington rode out the storm.

“It was an old building built in 1860 so it was stone and safe. Me and a few friends holed up there,” Arrington said.

Arrington never imagined what came next would be the beginning of his worries.

“For the first two days the roads were impassable,” he said.

Leaving the island and returning home proved difficult.

“Luckily the cruise lines came in an picked up thousands of us,” he said.

He had only been on the island of some 50,000 people for two weeks, studying marine biology at a local university. Now back in Minnesota, Arrington hopes the devastation outside of the continental U.S. will stay on peoples’ radars.

“People sometimes forget the Virgin Islands are still American citizens,” Arrington said.

What lies ahead for the islands, which depend largely on tourism to bolster the economy, keeps Arrington up at night.

“People don’t even have access to water electricity basic needs,” Arrington said.

Longing to return to his studies, one of many lives interrupted by Irma.

Arrington hopes his school will resume classes in the next month or so and he plans to go back.

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