Russian students marvel at hurricane’s power

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Despite his namesake, Ivan Derdugov doesn’t know that much about hurricanes.

But as Hurricane Dennis approached the Alabama coastline this weekend, he quickly learned just how powerful a storm could be.

Derdugov is one of more than 20 exchange students from Russia who are spending the summer in Baldwin County.

As Dennis approached the Gulf Coast this weekend, Gov. Bob Riley ordered a mass evacuation of the Alabama coastal communities and announced a state of emergency. Derdugov and his friends were told to pack up and move out.

&uot;We spend our summer studying and earning money here in America,&uot; he said. &uot;With the storm coming, we were told that we needed to leave so we came here.&uot;

The group from Russia, along with another 150 residents of Baldwin County, found their way to the Pelham Civic Center Saturday afternoon, where the American Red Cross had set up a hurricane shelter.

The group of students huddled around a TV and watched Dennis make landfall, amazed at the power of the storm.

&uot;We don’t see weather like that in our country,&uot; one student said. It was all he could do to turn his head away from the images of Dennis to comment.

At presstime, the group was planning to stay at the Pelham center until Wednesday.

But as Dennis reaped havoc on the gulf coast, the students from Russia were happy just to be a part of one of the biggest storms to ever hit the Gulf Coast