SCV resident, medical student trapped in Dominica after Hurricane Maria

Austin Moser, left, stands with sister Ashtyn and brother Kyle. Moser is a first-year medical student that has been trapped on the island of Dominica after Hurrican Maria hit. Courtesy of the Moser family

Dominica, an island in the West Indies near St. Lucia and Antigua, was the first to be hit by Hurricane Maria late-Monday.

The category-five storm destroyed buildings, cut off communications and flattened vegetation across the small Caribbean island.

A video released by the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency Wednesday, showed the widespread devastation of the storm throughout the island that impacted its 73,000 residents.

Aerial Recon of Dominica post Hurricane Maria pt 1

Part 1 – Video footage of #Dominica from southeast around north of the Island post #HurricaneMaria. Thanks to the Regional Security System (RSS) Headquarters through the RSS Air wing for facilitating the aerial recon. #Maria #CDEMAResponds

Posted by CDEMA – Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency on Wednesday, September 20, 2017

The destruction also affected hundreds of American and Canadian young adults who currently attend Ross University School of Medicine, located on the island Dominica.

“A lot of people don’t know what’s going on on Dominica.  They don’t know there are a lot of students there; it’s a big medical school,” said Greg Moser, a Santa Clarita resident whose son it’s a first-year medical student at Ross University.  “Young adults are trapped on this island and they can’t get off.”

Moser last heard from his son Austin Moser, a 2012 graduate of Hart High School, on Monday around 7 p.m. before the storm hit the island.

“He was in an apartment with four other students,” Moser said.  “The last text I got was that the wind speed was about 160 miles per hour and the storm was getting real bad… Every day I text him about two or three times and call him and there’s no response.”

Moser, and other parents of students at the medical school, are frustrated that they are unable to contact their children or get any direct information from Ross University about their students’ whereabouts.

“The biggest thing is the lack of contact and news.  None of the students have been heard from,” Moser said.  “I don’t blame the school… I don’t know who to be frustrated with.”

Ross University is providing intermediate updates to the public on its social media sites and through its website.

“We are now able to confirm the safety of more than 1,000 Ross Med students, and active outreach is underway to confirm the safety of those who have not yet checked in with campus,” the university’s latest update from Thursday at 2:30 p.m. read.

The school is supplied with food, water and power and has periodic Ham radio and satellite phone service.

Using a student registration sheet, the medical school said it is reaching out to each student’s emergency contact when it has phone reception.

If Moser could speak with son his he said he would tell him to be safe and ask what he could do to help.

“That’s the other thing is everyone wants to help and we don’t know what to do,” he said.

Ross University said it is trying to evacuate students as soon as Friday, but is having difficulty doing so due to rough seas, destroyed ports and an inoperable airport.

“Dominica is not a resort island like the islands next to it,” Moser said.  “They’re trying to get the students to St. Lucia and Antigua.  Those are resort islands with big airports that can take flights and big ports that can take ships.”

When students reach St. Lucia or Antigua, the university plans to fly them to the U.S. mainland and then to their homes.

“What we just want is to get them off the island as soon as we can,” Moser said.  “Even though the school has water and food, you’re going to get some lawlessness around.  People are desperate.  That’s the scary thing, you don’t want your family members in that type of situation.”

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On Twitter as @_ChristinaCox_

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