Hurricane Irma bears down on higher education

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As hurricane Irma struck land and devastated much in her path, college students and universities were left with many unanswered questions. Faced with how they were going to bounce back from this devastating storm and help the community, universities across the southeastern United States tried to stay hopeful during this time.

Photo credit: USA Today

Universities in South Florida went to extensive measures to clean up debris and make sure the schools were in good shape before the students returned. Going beyond just the students, Florida International University housed a few hundred Monroe County residents at their main campus who had to evacuate the Florida keys as a result of the storm.

Schools that house students from all over the United States and foreign countries had a lot of responsibility when Irma hit. “We’ve got students from almost all 50 states and about 30 foreign countries, so this is a little different from a state school where everyone drives an hour home back to mom and dad,” Tim Cost, the president of Jacksonville University, told TODAY.

Photo credit: USA Today

Taking all steps necessary to make sure students are safe, the University of Miami works hard to recover from Irma. President Julio Frenk of the university sends students a message promising that their safety comes first.

Along with Florida, the storm hit parts of Georgia leaving a mess in its path. Here in Athens, Georgia, homes and parts of the University of Georgia’s campus were destroyed, power outages lasted hours on end, and residents were faced with how to recover from all the damage.

On top of the damage to personal property, Athens residents and students have experienced concern for the safety loved ones who had to relocate during the storm. This shows that it’s not just about the physical affects, it’s about the emotional toll.

The University of Georgia provided power and internet in places like the Zell B. Miller Learning Center for students who had lost power in their homes during the storm so that they could reach out to family and friends during this time. North Georgia residents clearly were frustrated with the effects of the storm, expressed in a Facebook post by the Oconee County Sheriff’s Department.

Photo credit: Oconee County Georgia Sheriff’s Office Facebook Page

Turning to their university in times of need, students across the United States have relied on the resources that the universities were able to provide during hurricane Irma. Support given by schools like the University of Florida provide students with information on how to stay safe during a hurricane.

The University of Central Florida has been, perhaps, the most vital in the recovery process for Central and Southern Florida. UCF opened their football stadium and facilities to create a staging area for the National Guard’s recovery efforts. The Knights have had to cancel two football games as a result of Hurricane Irma, one against the University of Memphis and the other against Georgia Tech. UCF football will return to the field on Sept. 23rd at Maryland, a much awaited return to normalcy for many UCF students, faculty and fans.


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