Collegebound Network

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Hurricane Help

In a matter of six weeks, Florida was hit with four hurricanes - Charley, Frances, Jeanne, and Ivan - wreaking havoc on the start of the school year for Florida college students. Read on to hear the inspiring campus stories, endless relief efforts, and the effects of Mother Nature's wrath.

Storm Central U.
Some Florida college students had more than a month off from school! Now before you say "lucky dogs," imagine the devastation, physical and emotional strain, and property damage they endured, not to mention the school days they have to make up as a result. It's nothing to envy.

With all the school closings, many students are now cramming to catch up. The class schedules that resulted from the hurricanes have school officials considering their options - an extended school year, a loss of holidays, eliminating early--release days, even extending school days by mere minutes. Of course, what preceded the frustrating aftermath was even more agonizing for students, and at times even frightening.

For instance, as Hurricane Jeanne approached, Barry University (Miami Shores, FL) students were evacuated from their residence halls and placed in on--campus shelters. Luckily, the university had an adequate supply of food and water for the students and staff who stayed in the temporary housing.

At the University of West Florida (Pensacola, FL), students returned to school with a closed field house that lost three--quarters of its roof. Plus, more than 2,000 trees that used to line the campus are now gone, devastating the campus' once beautiful landscape.

Although the series of storms spared Jacksonville University (Jacksonville, FL) from major property damage, the campus was left with a few dozen fallen trees, and power outages for several days at their library, causing lots of studying strains.

After Hurricane Frances hit, some Flagler College (St. Augustine, FL) students had to dangerously wade through water to get from one place to another. The excessive flooding also left the school's administration building submerged under water. It was like a scene from The Day After Tomorrow!

"Just 10 days before Rollins College was set to open up the 2004--2005 academic year, Mother Nature had other plans. Her name was Charley...

"Orientation for new students, the return of upperclassmen, and the start of classes were delayed. Thankfully, there were no injuries and only minimal damage to the campus. I was so impressed with the way the community came together. It went so well, in fact, that we joked with Rollins' President Duncan about making the event an annual tradition. But as Hurricane Frances made her way toward Florida, it seemed unthinkable that Mother Nature could make it a monthly tradition.

"But then came Frances - a massive hurricane the size of Texas - lumbering toward us. Rollins College now found itself faced with a familiar yet far larger challenge: This time, classes were in full swing and 1,100 students occupied the residence halls. Most students left campus, but almost 300 Rollins students, faculty, staff, and community members spent the night in the Bush Science Center, dubbed "Bush Hotel and Resort." Movies, games, and an Internet caf helped pass the time. The eye of the storm passed south of us, sparing the Orlando and Winter Park areas from significant damage, but it took more than a full day to be completely free of hurricane-- and tropical--storm force winds."
-Pierce Neinken, junior political science major at
Rollins College (Winter Park, FL)

"There were over 3,000 trees down on campus and 95 percent of the buildings experienced some sort of damage. Now, instead of a pretty campus, the University of West Florida looks like a logging industry.

"Our school was closed for three weeks due to Hurricane Ivan. When I returned, there was minimal power in the building where I had class, and my professor had to lecture from a waterlogged notebook.

"Despite all of this destruction, it's fascinating and encouraging to see the way people react. Humans are so resilient! Losing so much connection with the 'outside world' and having a common goal of cleaning up and restoring life to 'normal' really brings communities together."
-Sarah Smith, junior physics major at the University of West Florida (Pensacola, FL)

"I missed class for two days. I live on campus at the University of Miami, and our living quarters were fine. Our building is one of the safest in Miami. The windows have built--in hurricane shutters and the building is raised above ground level."
-Dianne Caridad Rubin, freshman business marketing major at the University of Miami (Coral Gables, FL)

"The University of Florida kept us very well--informed of what safety procedures to follow and what supplies were needed. Also, we have two hurricane shelters on campus that were open for any students to go to if they felt unsafe in their apartment or house. My roommates and I just stayed in our apartment - it's newly built and we felt safe enough.

"We had about 20 gallons of water stored in our laundry room, plus flashlights, batteries, and candles in case the power went out - which it did for every hurricane. Many of our friends came to our place because they didn't feel safe at theirs, plus it was more fun to have a bunch of people riding out the storms together. At one time we had 15 people staying in our small four--bedroom apartment."
-Jennifer Meyer, senior advertising major at the University of Florida (Gainesville, FL)

"Experiencing three hurricanes in a month and a half was definitely crazy. Living in Florida and being stuck with no power or air conditioning can be torture!

"Due to power outages and leaks, my school was closed for a few days. Instead of having a week off for vacation, we had to make up our exams.

"My birthday weekend was also ruined because of Hurricane Charley. I invited friends and family to go to the beach to celebrate, but everything was canceled because of the weather. And, I missed my trip back home to New Jersey after finals because of the hurricanes that followed, Frances and Jeanne."
-- Marie Zagada, junior multimedia design major at the International Academy of Design and Technology (Orlando, FL)