For many Floridians, preparing for a hurricane in September comes as no surprise, but for college students who come from out of state, they are at a loss.
Melanie Stark, a Pre-Law student at Palm Beach Atlantic University, is a California native from San Diego.
Being that she has never encountered a hurricane in her life, Melanie and her family are very nervous about the damage that Hurricane Irma could possibly cause in South Florida. Because Irma is one of the strongest hurricanes ever recorded, with tropical storms to follow, Stark found it unsafe to stay.
“My mom panicked and got me the first flight she could. In San Diego, it rains three times a year, so they are all extremely worried,” Stark said.
Even though Melanie is safe, she worries about friends left behind.
“I am just a little worried about my friends that are staying here. I saw what happened to Houston, and I do not want the same thing to happen [in Florida],” Stark said.
Those who are unable to travel before the hurricane makes landfall in Florida and are encouraged to stay with a family member, friend, or faculty member until campus is deemed safe.
Hurricane Irma will not be the first for Diazhanee Gibson, an environmental science major from Abaco, an island in the Bahamas.
Because she is not able to make it home, Gibson is currently staying with family members in Fort Lauderdale.
“I actually wish I was back home to just be with my family. I am not nervous because I am so accustomed to weathering out hurricanes. However, there is concern for this particular hurricane since this is massive and very strong,” Gibson said.
Residence halls will be closed as of Friday, Sept. 8, meaning that all students must evacuate campus.