Prior to Hurricane Irma, our blog talked about hurricanes that had impacted Florida. It had been twelve years since a major hurricane in the state. Hurricane Irma will be remembered not only for its strength but for its impact on the entire state of Florida causing damage and destruction on both the east and west coast. I live in South Florida where the hurricane was forecasted to take a direct hit on the Thursday prior to its Saturday landfall. And as a resident for over 25 years, I felt anxious, worried and concerned as meteorologists threw out words such as catastrophic. You could see it in their facial expressions and hear it in their voices as they described the latest track.
When they canceled Nole football, I began to think that maybe the students should leave there too but didn’t want them driving down south into what looked to be the heart of the storm, even if that is where I was staying in my shuttered house. As things changed, I was incredibly impressed by how quickly FSU responded and made decisions. Many friends left town and scurried up to Tally to hunker down with their kids; when the hurricane path changed again, they took their kids and kept going. Some ended up having a nice, little vacation in Alabama. I am happy to say that my kids remained calm throughout all of Irma’s indecision and twists and turns. My home became a shelter for nine people and four dogs. I double checked on the dorms and off-campus apartments to be sure they had hurricane impact windows and you will be happy to know that most complexes that the students live in off-campus at FSU are fairly new and do have hurricane impact windows. They lost power for a little while in some dorms and apartments but were safe.
In the midst of all the preparations, I tried to find just the right amount of urgency in my texts and responses so as to not scare them too much, but to take planning seriously. The last hurricane my daughter recalled, she slept in a windowless hallway in our house and only remembers the fun parts. I encouraged them to get supplies and for those things they couldn’t find already in the stores, I had them sent overnight via Amazon Prime (flashlight, batteries, and battery operated candles). They arrived late Friday. They found water at a gas station since Publix was already out by Wednesday and filled the car with gas and parked it on the second floor of the garage (in case of flooding on the ground floor.) Armed with plenty of dry goods, they felt prepared.
Irma couldn’t make up her mind and FSU tried to do whatever was going to be the safest option for our kids. Students then left school in a hurry. There were options for shelters, but most students seemed to leave town. Some flew; others drove, which was risky in itself as gas became a rare commodity and highways were virtually at a standstill. For those that stayed, they offered the whole campus free burgers, beans, salads, chips, frozen lemonades, drinks, etc and let them sit in the stadium on Monday. As our kids trickled back towards Tally there have been questions about road closings and massive traffic. Gas is available again though. Some parents recommended using Waze to check the road conditions or to find alternate routes.
There is no judgment whatsoever if you had your student return home or fly out of Florida. We all make decisions that work best for our own family. FSU has stated repeatedly, and notified their staff, to be flexible when it comes to homework, assignments and so forth. They have shared with all students, and parents signed up to receive this information, places they can get help if they need it. If you haven’t already, be sure to sign up for emails and perhaps get into a Facebook group for FSU parents. Someone there always knows the answer.
As for Hurricane’s Jose and Maria…there are no words.
Additional information on FSU’s storm preparedness can be found below (go ahead and bookmark them in advance)
Florida State University Web pages
FSU Emergency Hotline
If you want to receive a direct SMS text message, send a text message to 40404 saying “Follow FSUAlert”