OLD FORGE -- In the last week, Sydney Read of Old Forge has seen her life take quite a drastic turn. She has the photos and video to show for it. Read is a medical student and was going to school on the small Caribbean island of Dominica, the first island hit by the brute force of Hurricane Maria.
"It's getting more real every day, but just the feeling that I had to do that and go through what I had to go through is still blowing my mind," Read said.
"It was so terrifying," Read added. "You never think that the eye of a hurricane is going to come right for you, and it's not like I could just get on a plane and go home. We were on an island. There was no getting out. All the flights were canceled. It was just like, 'Well, this is it.'"
The category 5 hurricane hit Dominica last Monday night into Tuesday. When Read woke up, she was shocked to see how extensive the damage was.
"I walked outside and I was like, 'Oh, wow. We have to leave. This is not something that's just going to be fixed in a few days. This is bad.' Roofs flew off. Windows were all smashed in. It was horrible, just complete devastation," Read added.
Luckily, Read was one of the first groups to evacuate. Her flight got into Pennsylvania from Miami on Sunday. Before that, she took a 12-hour boat ride on a pirate ship from Dominica to St. Lucia.
"We got to the dock and there was a big pirate ship there. Literally with cannons and everything. It was called "Black Magic." The people running it called themselves modern-day pirates, but they were really nice, so it was fine," Read said as she laughed.