(KMSP) - It's been less than two weeks since Hurricane Harvey flooded Houston and other parts of the southern United States. Now, Hurricane Irma is taking aim at the Caribbean and Florida, and a Minnesotan is sitting right in its path.
"Emotionally, it comes in waves. If you just keep working, it helps. If I'm not doing anything, that's when I get down and sad and realize the impact Irma is going to have on us over the next couple of hours," Samantha Kaffenbarger said via Skype Tuesday afternoon.
Kaffenbarger grew up in Andover, Minn. but moved to St. Thomas a couple of years ago to manage the bar at the St. Thomas Yacht Club after finishing her master's degree at the University of Minnesota.
When she returned to St. Thomas after a visit here, she learned her new home is directly in Irma's path.
But when she tried to catch a flight off the island, they were all booked.
"[I was] Definitely trapped. I went out yesterday and the mood is upbeat. Very upbeat. It’s just scary. That's what it comes down to," Kaffenbarger said.
The category 5 hurricane is expected to hit the US Virgin Islands early Wednesday morning, bringing winds of more than 185 mph along with it.
Images from the International Space Station show just how monstrous the storm is - 500 miles wide - and it would make history if it blows ashore in the US on the heels of hurricane Harvey.
"If Irma makes landfall somewhere in the United States, it would be the first time in history two major hurricanes higher than a category 3 made landfall in the same hurricane season," Fox 9 Chief Meteorologist Ian Leonard said.
For now, all Kaffenbarger can do is batten down the hatches and wait for the storm to pass.
"I've only been through one tornado in Minnesota. I feel like that has not prepared me for what is going to come, but time will tell and we'll see what's going to happen," Kaffenbarger said.
In addition to St. Thomas, Irma is expected to hit Turks and Caicos, Puerto Rico, Cuba and the southern tip of Florida.