Carmel college student waits out Irma at Florida campus

Hurricane Irma hit the Ave Maria College campus hard. (Photo: Carmen Cisneros)

AVE MARIA, Fla. (WTHR) - A Carmel woman says Hurricane Irma left her Florida college in the dark, but things are returning to normal.

During the crisis, Ave Maria College became a light for the community all around the campus. Veronica Rancourt is a junior at the school, located about 45 minutes from Naples.

Their lights and air-conditioning are back on, but that wasn't the case just after Irma hit. That night of the storm, Rancourt says "we were praying like, all night long."

Veronica Rancourt (Photo: Carmen Cisneros)
Veronica Rancourt (Photo: Carmen Cisneros)
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"Once we got by the doors, we could hear it. It was kind of scary. Kind of did sound like a train coming," she said.

She says the university did everything to keep students safe.

"I think the dorms are qualified for Category 4 hurricanes, so it is super sealed in there. So it's getting very hot and muggy. So we were in that for about two days," Rancourt said.

She says the school was well prepared. It had ample food and water and shared it with people in the town nearby. Several hundred from the community even sheltered at the college.

The local Immokalee Fire Department housed a truck on campus during the storm and the sheriff even set up operations there.

"I don't think we rejected anybody, anyone who came we said, 'Yes, absolutely. Come on in'," Rancourt said.

Wednesday, the mayor visited campus to thank the university for all it did to shelter and feed the community.

"I don't know if it was God's mercy or what, but our campus was really, really protected. And it seems like the eye of the storm had passed - just passed us by," Rancourt said.

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