UCF cancels classes as Hurricane Irma approaches Florida

Image from the National Hurricane Center.

UCF has canceled all classes until further notice as Hurricane Irma, a Category 5 storm, quickly makes its way through the Caribbean and toward Florida, according to a university alert.

The storm will make landfall with South Florida on Sunday morning and will continue its path up the state until Monday afternoon, according to the National Weather Service.

UCF’s campus will be closed starting Sept. 7 through Sept. 11, according to an announcement made by the university’s alert system.

However, the football game against Memphis will still be played on Friday at 6:30 p.m., as earlier stated by the university. But according to the UCF Police Department, there will be no tailgating, as officers will be preparing for the storm.

The projected path for Irma. Image from the National Hurricane Center.

Students staying on campus have been advised to move to a safer off-campus location if possible, UCF PD spokeswoman Courtney Gilmartin said by email.

If students have not moved by Friday, they will be moved to a “ride-out area,” where they will have to stay during the entire storm. Students who will be moved to a ride-out location should still make sure to have food and water, as supplies will be limited, Gilmartin said.

The university is not a public shelter, so if you do not live on-campus you must find somewhere else to ride out the storm. Students can elect to stay in their current housing or evacuate to a safer location, depending on where the storm will be the strongest, Gilmartin said.

With the hurricane in mind, around five hundred students flocked to the Pegasus Ballroom Wednesday for the UCF Campus Safety Fair to seek answers and tips on how to prepare.

A collection of students at the Safety Fair that was held by UCF on September 6. Picture credit: Emily O’Connell

“We have an opportunity to prepare, and it is very important that we take advantage of that,” said Roland Clee, an Orlando Police Department Community Service Officer at the event. “People should have three days worth of food and water and keep their gas tanks full.”

Hurricane Irma formed in the Atlantic Ocean on Aug. 30 and quickly built up in both size and speed. The hurricane is now a Category 5 with winds up to 185 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center.

The storm is currently tearing through the Lesser Antilles out in the Atlantic and lost some of its strength after making landfall. The storm is projected to hit Florida as a Category 3 early next week, according to the NHC. Current projections by the NHC show the storm heading straight up the state, encompassing it entirely, with the eye on the west coast.

“We would recommend having flashlights, first aid kits, battery backups, generators, medicine kits, emergency kits and window locks,” Kaitlyn Wickard, a Home Depot employee at the Safety Fair, said.

If students are planning on staying in Orlando this weekend, they should have water and dried goods to eat in case the power goes out, Clee said.

UCF Arboretum dropped off some fresh produce at Knight’s Pantry earlier today, and there is bread available at the Arboretum office at no charge, according to a Facebook post by the UCF Arboretum.

Main tips for students who plan to stay through the storm, according to the Orlando PD booth at the Safety Fair:

  • Take any valuables down from windows.
  • Stay indoors during the duration of the storm.
  • Do not have anything plugged in that could potentially spark if the power goes out.
  • Have enough food and water for three days. (If you can’t buy water, you can always store water in containers or purchase flavored water or Gatorade. If you are in need of water for the storm, try calling your local stores and see if they have any in stock. If the stores do not, ask when the next shipment will be so you can be at the store as soon as it comes in.)
  • Water can also be ordered online at Amazon, but order sooner rather than later.

“The concerns with the hurricane have to do with wind speed, and that includes the fact that it turns ordinary objects into projectiles,” Clee said. “So, when people are facing the storm we want them in the room with the greatest safety factor, and following the storm, people need to avoid standing water, downed power lines and debris.”

If students are feeling stressed about the hurricane, the UCF’s Counseling and Psychological Services stated that all Resident Assistants are trained if you are staying on campus and need someone to talk to.

If you will not be staying on campus, it is still important to stay in contact with friends and family, to make sure they are safe during the storm, said Jennifer Crofts, a certified CAPS employee at the event.

“It is a stressful time for everyone and you need to be prepared, reaching out to the people you care about is very important,” Crofts said.

Students should know what to keep on them at all times during a hurricane, according to the NHC.

Essentials include:

  • Flashlights and extra batteries
  • Battery-operated radio
  • Battery-operated lanterns
  • Batteries (in different sizes)
  • Matches
  • First aid kit
  • Rain gear
  • Clock (wind-up or battery-powered)
  • Plastic garbage bags
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Can opener
  • Clean clothes
  • Extra blankets
  • Heavy gloves
  • Bottled Water
  • Nonperishable food

A hurricane kit that includes all of the essentials to get through a storm safely. Image from the National Hurricane Center.

 

For more information on Hurricane Irma, please follow @UCF, @UCFPolice and @CFFocus_ on Twitter.