Students handle Hurricane Irma threat with humor

Image courtesy of Zachary Amrose, host of the Facebook event page "Fidget Spin Clockwise to Cancel Out Irma."

Facebook events calling for bizarre forms of action against Hurricane Irma have been popping up as the Category 5 storm makes its way toward Florida.

Some encourage pointing fans at the storm to blow it away, others jokingly suggest shooting at it and some recommend pushing the entire state of Florida out of Irma’s path.

Zachary Amrose decided to create the Facebook event “Fidget Spin Clockwise to Cancel Out Irma” around midnight Thursday. In just one day, around 5,300 people were interested in the event on Facebook, and more than 1,000 people said they’re going.

Amrose, a 19-year-old sophomore political science major at the University of Florida, is an admin for a UF online meme group, which he said helped popularize his Hurricane Irma event page.

He said he knew the event would be a hit in the UF community, as UF President W. Kent Fuchs sported a fidget spinner at a summer 2017 graduation ceremony.

Amrose expects the amount of event supporters to double in size.

“I think that these Facebook events making light of the impending arrival of Irma are a way for a generation that shares so much online to use that medium to share that needed levity,” Amrose said.

Some UCF students such as Hanser Gonzalez said they appreciate the comedic take.

Gonzalez, a senior Computer Engineering major at UCF, said he thinks humor distracts worried people in a good way. Gonzalez, 21, keeps running into more and more hilarious Facebook pages, he said.

“The humor makes me feel better in the sense that I’m seeing others are calm or handling the situation well, and that’s something I wish would spread more,” Gonzalez said.

Gonzalez has already picked up the supplies he needs for the storm. He said he plans to hunker down at home, do homework and hopes for the power to stay on.

However, some students said the events could have a negative impact on hurricane preparations.

Sydney Wolf, a sophomore studying psychology at UCF, said the events showed some people weren’t taking the storm seriously.

“In general, I would hope that regardless of funny pages and humor about the storm, people will still prepare properly to keep themselves and their homes as safe as possible,” Wolf said.

Amrose disagreed and said he still understands the seriousness of the storm, especially for his family in Jupiter, Florida.

Amrose, already stocked up on emergency supplies, plans to stay at a friend’s dorm room on UF’s campus in Gainesville, Florida.

Wolf, 19, is riding out the storm with her family in her hometown of Bradenton, Florida. She said her family is carefully monitoring the storm and is prepared to evacuate if necessary.

However, she still finds the events amusing, and likes to read the titles to her dad, Mike Wolf, when she comes across an exceptionally funny one.

“I think humor breaks up the tension and allows for people to display their feelings in a healthy way instead of arguing and fighting,” Wolf said.

Despite the suppressed giggles caused by the events, Floridians aren’t relying on fans to turn away Hurricane Irma.

Irma is a Category 5 storm, as of Thursday night. It’s headed toward Florida at 16 mph and is expected to make landfall late Saturday night, according to the National Hurricane Center and the National Weather Service.

Governor Rick Scott announced Thursday that all public K-12 schools, state colleges, state universities and state offices will be closed Sept. 8 through Sept. 11.

“Our state’s public schools serve a vital role in our communities as shelters for displaced residents and staging areas for hurricane recovery efforts,” Scott said in a Florida Government press release.

As the storm approaches, eyes are on Hurricane Jose, a Category 3 storm slowly making its way across the Atlantic Ocean behind Irma.