Hurricane Irma has come and gone. The storm touched ground in the Bay Area early Monday morning as a Category 1, and students are still working toward normality after the storm wreaked havoc across Florida.
Samantha Morancy, a freshman majoring in health sciences, decided to ride out the hurricane in her residence hall. She lives in Kosove and said the hurricane didn’t affect her much.
“It was boring,” Morancy said. “I didn’t even know it passed, because I slept through the whole thing. It was just super windy and that was it.”
Even though the USF area didn’t sustain much damage, other parts of Florida were not so lucky. Morancy said she is from Naples and her family also decided to stay put during the storm.
The city of Naples received far more of a destructive impact than most of the Bay Area and experienced severe damage, flooding and power outages.
“My family is fine and lucky,” Morancy said. “Our house didn’t get affected by it, but our whole neighborhood was flooded. Naples got hit hard.”
Many students living on campus decided to stay with their families. With millions of Floridians still without power, students continue to deal with Hurricane Irma’s effects to a large extent.
Lena Santoro, a sophomore majoring in marketing, was one of the students who chose to evacuate with family. She and her family decided the Gainesville area would provide a safer environment to weather the storm.
“It was kind of concerning, because I’ve never experienced anything like that to that caliber,” Santoro said. “It was just super windy, and I was worried about trees falling on our house, but we were fine. We did lose power there, but that was a big reason why I decided to come back to campus early, because we have power here.”
Jena Shepard, a freshman majoring in biomedical sciences, stayed with her parents in Clearwater.
“It wasn’t what I was expecting,” Shepard said. “There wasn’t any rain, there was just wind. We currently still don’t have power.”
Even USF’s residence halls appear to have retained power and to have received minimal damage, many apartment complexes off campus did not have the same fortune.
Christian Bianchet, a sophomore majoring in jazz performance, rode out the storm in his off-campus apartment.
“A tree fell in the backyard of the apartment complex and it hit one of the building(s), but it didn’t break anything,” Bianchet said. “A bunch of college kids came out and tried to cut it down, which was interesting, because they had no idea what they were doing. They almost crushed themselves.”
Kiersten Maricle, a freshman majoring in health sciences, decided to join her family in the Clearwater area to endure Irma. Maricle has lived in Florida her whole life and said she has lived through hurricanes before. Maricle’s experiences with storms of similar caliber to Irma led her to believe the news was exaggerating the impact.
“It was just so hyped up and then nothing happened,” Maricle said. “I was actually terrified for it, like I went home and everything and it was a category one. It was like nothing. I was expecting so much to happen, and I slept through the hurricane.”
Bianchet also said he believes hurricanes can be emphasized due to the economic benefit they bring.
“The news overdid it,” Bianchet said. They oversaturated the danger of the situation. It’s so beneficial economically for a natural disaster to happen. People overstock, they buy so much stuff. The economy gets a boost from it, so why not milk it.”
Students working off campus in retail stores also experienced a hectic week trying to prepare quickly before the storm arrived.
Kyle Curry, a sophomore majoring in sociology, works at a gas station in the Brandon area and said his work was overwhelmed this week.
“People were coming into my work and fighting over the 40 packs of water,” Carry said. “They were actually getting into fist fights until they were all gone. People were calling all day asking whether we had water, gas or propane, and we had nothing.”
For the most part, students agree Tampa was lucky to receive minimal damage from a storm that was feared to be catastrophic.
“I’m very thankful it slowed down to a category one, because that was already crazy, so I couldn’t imagine anything more,” Shepard said.