Hurricane Matthew Through the Eyes of Students
It’s one thing to see a university on a day when it is normal operations. It is another thing all together to see a school respond to emergency situations, especially hurricanes. Take a trip through the week of Hurricane Matthew at Florida Tech.
One Week Before
About a week ago, I first started hearing warnings about Hurricane Matthew. I have this awesome friend who was a Meteorology major from Florida Tech that always keeps me posted on possible impending weather. He posted on Facebook about this new hurricane and everyone just kept going on about our daily lives. I was also pretty unfazed. This is my sixth year at Florida Tech and I had heard of so many hurricanes that just kind of appeared and never made it close enough to do anything.
3 Days Before
Around 3 days before Hurricane Matthew arrived, the town of Melbourne began to prepare. At this point we were all being convinced by the media that the hurricane would hit us. The strength and time of impact was questionable like predicting any other weather. Needless to say, the town began stocking up on water and bread. Local stores began to limit the number of packs of water that you could purchase, and bread isles were empty at almost every grocery store. Graduate Student Zachery Eichholz got some pictures of the shelves at local stores. Campus was prepared. Students were able to go to the Panther Grocery Store and the Rathskeller and find bread and water all the way up until Wednesday Oct. 5 around noon.
2 Days Before
Students who had their correct information in Florida Tech’s emergency notification system began receiving e-mails, calls and texts about the school closing down. Classes were cancelled as of Wednesday Oct. 5 at 1 p.m., and most other on-campus locations also closed, with the exception of the Panther Dining Hall. Students and faculty were urged to prepare for the hurricane. At this point the hurricane was predicted to hit Brevard County as a Category 4.
Later on that day, the school also issued a voluntary evacuation. The university’s residence life began to collect students’ plans for evacuation or staying on campus. If students wished to leave and didn’t have anywhere to go, the university gave out information regarding a local hurricane shelter and the information that would be needed to get into the shelter. The trolleys were organized to do pick ups in each of the residence halls from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Thursday Oct. 6.
The Day Before
At this point, the campus was eerily empty. Computers and other electronics were covered up across campus. On-campus residents from across campus had all moved into Roberts Hall, gone to the shelter or just left Melbourne all together. Sophomore Lucy Eaton described her experience moving to Roberts Hall as ” less scary and less stressful because everyone was in it together. It made [her] feel a lot more safe.” Final day preparations were made by putting all supplies into one convenient location. The campus put out a curfew telling students not to go outside no matter what during the hurricane.
During the Hurricane
Being in a hurricane is much less stressful when you can sleep through most of it. Hurricane Matthew hit its hardest at 2 a.m. on Friday. With hurricane-proof windows, most of us slept through the roughest parts of the hurricane. The power did go out. The winds and rain continued on and off throughout the day. Because of possible flying debris, the campus curfew was not lifted until the late afternoon. The hardest part was dealing with the power outages for multiple days, but thankfully we did not lose water or enter a boil water notice.
The Day After
The day after the hurricane, most of campus was back into repair mode. Facilities was out repairing all of the security concerns around campus. Residence life was checking for water damage in the residence halls. Panther Dining Hall opened it doors for all meals even though they didn’t have air conditioning. Fortunately campus seemed to withstand minor damages. A light pole went down between the Clemente Center and Olin Engineering, and pieces of debris could be seen across campus. Junior Austin Taft got some pictures of the flooding and fallen trees around campus.
Florida Tech was one of the lucky universities in the area to come out with so little damage, but the protection of human life was thanks to a variety of people. Wes Sumner and Security sent out notices regarding the schools’ decisions regarding cancelling classes and voluntary evacuations. As a student at Florida Tech, I can honestly say that the constant communication from the university put my mind at ease for future hurricanes.