UCF students are preparing for the worst and hoping for the best with the onset of Hurricane Matthew in Central Florida.
The main campus will be closed today through Saturday. Students who live in some on-campus housing developments, including Lake Claire, Neptune, Apollo, Nike, Hercules and Greek Row will be forced to evacuate by 7 p.m. today, according to a statement issued by the university.
From 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. today, the students will be shuttled to ride-out locations, including the Nicholson School of Communications, Health and Public Affairs I, Mathematical Sciences and Classroom Building I.
Students living in Northview, Towers, Knights Circle and the Pointe are permitted to ride out the storm in the comfort of their own homes.
As long as UCF remains closed, deadlines for online assignments will not be enforced.
Many students have been preparing for Matthew by stocking up on food, water, gas and other supplies.
Kelsey Langley, a senior elementary education major, said the last time she faced a hurricane, she lost power for three weeks. Trees littered her driveway, blocking her exit route. Langley said she spent her entire Wednesday preparing for Matthew.
“I have filled my car with gas and purchased water, nonperishables, dog food and have plenty of candles on hand,” she said. “I have filled a gallon bag with water and froze it so that I could cover my section of meat in the freezer. I also plan on filling my tub with water.”
With Publix and Walmart running out of water and gas stations running out of gas, some students, including Langley, have been scrambling to prepare for the storm.
“I had spent about an hour searching for a place to get gas when I got out of work yesterday,” she said.
“After eight places not having gas, I went home and decided to try later.”
When Langley heard the Wawa on Alafaya Trail had gas, she went and waited in one of the two lines for gas for 15 minutes.
“I pulled up behind a man with no line behind him and another car came up to me. The woman inside started screaming at me for cutting her because she didn’t realize there were two lines,” Langley said. “Then she got out of her car and came to my window, calling me names and saying I was in her way, even though she had about 40 feet to back up her car and there was an empty gas pump right by her to go to. There were so many police out and it was like people completely forgot how to be decent human beings.”
Many students, including junior studio art major Shaya Oliver, decided to leave the Orlando area.
“I drove to UF to take refuge at my best friend Maddie’s apartment in Gainesville,” she said. “My family must leave our hometown of Saint Augustine because of a mandatory evacuation so they are driving to Naples to seek shelter with my sister and her husband.”
Eric Fish, a junior accounting major, evacuated from Lake Claire to ride out the storm with a friend at the Tivoli Apartments complex.
“It’s inconvenient having to pack things up and stay with somebody else when Lake Claire has brick walls inside and out and probably stands a better chance of surviving the storm,” he said. “I needed a break from class, but I was looking forward to not having to leave my apartment. It’s bittersweet I guess.”
Some students are using the storm to their advantage to relax and throw parties. Popular UCF bars like The Knight’s Pub and Knight Library have been promoting drink specials. On Wednesday night, The Knight’s Pub tweeted, “No class tomorrow. Free bottled beer at pub. You are welcome for planning your night for you.” Knight Library advertised their “Hurricane Happy Hour” that will take place Friday.
Benjamin Lehrer, a junior human communication major, said he is excited and nervous to face Matthew, as he has never experienced a hurricane before.
“I’ve invited a couple friends over so they’re not trapped in classroom buildings during the storm,” he said. “I’m throwing a party for some of my friends who are students at UCF with alcohol soda, snacks, games, etc. We’re all staying in my apartment off campus, and I think we’ll be safe.”
As of right now, UCF will remain closed through Saturday. Check the Central Florida Focus page for updates.