I Love St. Thomas

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Paul Horton learned to sail on a beautiful boat and made many trips up and down the Caribbean Islands. (Source: Paul Horton) Paul Horton learned to sail on a beautiful boat and made many trips up and down the Caribbean Islands. (Source: Paul Horton)
Horton's sailing crew. (Source: Paul Horton) Horton's sailing crew. (Source: Paul Horton)
The boat a Gallant 53-foot going ketch, and there are only 22 boats like it in the world. (Source: Paul Horton) The boat a Gallant 53-foot going ketch, and there are only 22 boats like it in the world. (Source: Paul Horton)
Paul on one of his many sailing adventures. (Source: Paul Horton) Paul on one of his many sailing adventures. (Source: Paul Horton)
Alaunt is still floating even after the hurricane. (Source: Paul Horton) Alaunt is still floating even after the hurricane. (Source: Paul Horton)
(3TV/CBS 5) -

Hurricane Irma was a STRONG Category 5 storm when it slammed into the Virgin Islands.  

It had winds up to 185 mph and was the one the strongest Atlantic storms in history.  

I paid close attention to the track of this hurricane because the Islands have been a part of my life since I was 13. 

[Slideshow: Hurricane Irma leaves homes battered, neighborhoods flooded]

It is a special place. I learned to sail there, I had my first job there and I even went to college at the University of the Virgin Islands until Hurricane Hugo blew my college down. I even learned to drive there which kind of explains my driving skills. 

[SPECIAL SECTION: Weather blog]

Let me tell you being in the middle of a hurricane is scary. My dad and I were hunkered down in a house in St. Thomas when Hurricane Hugo blew our roof off. We spent the rest of the night in our bathroom waiting out the storm.

[RELATED: What it's like to live in the path of a hurricane]

When Hurricane Hugo hit, it was a Category 4 hurricane – I can’t imagine what a strong Category 5 hurricane felt like.   

It definitely caused some major damage, and it will be a long time for St. Thomas and the other Caribbean Islands to rebuild.

[RELATED: The devastation from Hurricane Irma on the island of Tortola, British Virgin Islands]

My dad and his girlfriend Carol were actually in the state of Washington when this storm hit. I am glad they were somewhere safe.  

They run a charter business in St. Thomas for many years on their prized possession, their boat, Alaunt. I learned to sail on this beautiful boat and made many trips up and down the Caribbean Islands. It’s a Gallant 53-foot going ketch, and there are only 22 boats like it in the world. It was built in England for the Governor of Bermuda, and now the boat takes people out on day trips with Capt. Ron and Carol.  

[RELATED: Why such an active hurricane season?]

Preparing a boat for a hurricane is a serious task. My family had Alaunt on a mooring in Red Hook Harbor and they had a friend take out storm anchors to help secure her. Amazingly, she is still floating and her rig is still up, and that is amazing news when you see all of the boats that slammed into each other at the end of the harbor.       

[RELATED: Rescues and recovery after Irma]

My heart goes out to all the people there. There are a lot of people homeless and have nowhere to go. It will be a long time for the power to return, and there is a huge need for basic items and store shelves are empty. 

We had a special tonight on all the networks called Hand and Hand, and they are still taking donations to help. If you would like to donate, there's a website.

[RELATED: Stars turn out to push for donations for hurricane relief]

Click/tap here to download the free azfamily mobile app.

Copyright 2017 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.


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