Vermonters Living, Studying in Florida Prepare for Hurricane Irma

WEST PALM BEACH, FL - As police in West Palm Beach are urging residents to leave, there are some who have just arrived.

Michael Marallo and his friends Dexter Allen, Rose Leu and Hyunsoo No are students at the Robert Larner College of Medicine at the University of Vermont.

Marallo and Leu are doing clinical rotations in obstetrics and gynecology, while Allen and No are doing rotations in pediatrics.

In addition to studying in Burlington, Marallo is a Rutland native.

"We definitely didn't expect to come down to this. You know we thought we were coming to beautiful Florida weather, just to learn in our clinical rotations and gain experience," said Marallo.

Two weeks ago, they arrived in West Palm Beach for their clinical clerkship at St. Mary's Medical Center.

The hospital is one of the evacuation sites; it's about a mile off the shore.

"We're here so, we just want to contribute as much as we can and hopefully come out of it safe," said Marallo.

Michael Brown is originally from Eden, Vt. but has lived in Florida for the past five years. He and his family are on the other side of the state, in Hudson.

"We're in a major flood zone. We live less than a quarter of a mile away from the ocean, from the Gulf of Mexico," said Brown.

Both Marallo and Brown say even though they've been through hurricanes before, they've never been through anything quite like this.

"The level of panic, among a lot of the people down here is really high, and with good reason. Pretty much all of I-75 going north is bumper to bumper. Before the hurricane, we were looking at $2.29, $2.39 [per gallon for gas] and since the news broke, and Harvey, they jumped up to, I think I saw today $2.79, so it's a pretty significant increase, that's if we can even find a place that has gas," said Brown.

Brown and his family are traveling to the inland side of Palm Harbor, about 45 minutes south.

"Being from Vermont, I'm used to driving an hour just to go anywhere. The area that we live in, it's very heavily forested by rather tall trees, so with 100+ mile an hour winds, the last thing we need is a tree to fall on our home," said Brown.

Marallo and his friends have boarded up their apartment in Palm Beach Gardens, but they won't stay there.

"We're not gonna be useful if we're stuck in our apartment, so we're gonna stay in the hospital, I guess until we get the all clear and they don't need our help anymore," said Marallo.


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