SOUTH PORTLAND (AP) – Nearly 400 medical students from around the world whose school in the Caribbean was ravaged by Hurricane Ivan have found a temporary home along the Maine coast.

The move to South Portland is an outgrowth of a partnership between Saint Matthew’s University, a small medical school on Grand Cayman Island, and Saint Joseph’s College, a liberal arts school in Standish.

Under the partnership, students are allowed to study at each other’s campus, said Bill McCarthy, a spokesman at Saint Joseph’s. That connection led Saint Matthew’s to look to Maine after the hurricane two weeks ago forced it to consider options for resuming classes.

Students were given the choice of continuing their studies in Maine or waiting to rejoin the program once it is back on Grand Cayman. Officials hope to have that campus running again by January.

In the meantime, students will be housed in the Amerisuites Hotel and attend classes in a nearby office building.

“When they said we were coming here, I thought, It’s really cold,”‘ said Anthony Burgess, 31, who’s originally from Houston. “But to pursue a dream, it’s worth it.”

Students and faculty members already had been evacuated to Florida when Ivan hit. Those left on Grand Cayman said things quickly deteriorated into a state of emergency, with food and fuel being rationed.

Some students are still trying to secure the proper visas to allow them to continue their studies in the United States. Others wonder how they’ll get around town.

They’ve traded one tourist destination for another, and some will have to buy winter clothes.

Chris O’Bannon, a 26-year-old student from Pennsylvania, remembers the night the hurricane touched down on the island, rearranging beaches, destroying homes and bringing normal life to a halt.

“It was like a twister wrapped itself around your home,” he said. O’Bannon considers himself lucky because his apartment sustained little damage.



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