USF is already feeling Hurricane Irma’s presence

Hurricane Irma is currently projected to make landfall in Florida this weekend. SPECIAL TO THE ORACLE/NOAA

Hurricane Irma’s projected path of impact leaves those in the Bay Area questioning their safety. The storm should make landfall Florida by the weekend. Currently a Category 4, thoughts of the devastation caused by similarly ranked Hurricane Charley in 2004 are lingering in the backs of Floridian’s minds.

Adam Bakst, a sophomore majoring in mass communications, has lived in Tampa all of his life and remembers the impact hurricanes have had in Tampa and the surrounding communities.

“It is scary because I don’t think that Tampa/St. Pete are ready, infrastructure wise especially, for that much rain water to flood the city,” Bakst said. “That’s kind of the problem I see with Houston too, too much water out of nowhere and just all of the sudden.”

The storm has also caught the attention of state government officials, as Gov. Rick Scott urged Floridians to pay close attention to Irma’s path.  

“As we continue to monitor Hurricane Irma, families should make sure their Disaster Supply Kits are ready today … FL knows how important it is to be prepared,” Scott said in a series of tweets on Sunday. “Encourage your loved ones to have a plan ahead of any potential storm.’’ 

Common hurricane supply kits include water and food to last for a minimum of three days, battery powered radios, flashlights, first aid kits and toiletries, among other items, according to the National Hurricane Center.

Sheba Cherian, a freshman majoring in biomedical sciences, said the devastation caused by Hurricane Harvey — which landed as a Category 4 in Houston— has caused a higher level of stress about the storm in her mind.

“I am afraid of the impact after seeing the devastating situations in Houston, because Florida is one of the states that are close to sea level and with the hurricane’s aid, it can cause more flooding and damage in our area,” she said. 

The University of South Florida System Hurricane Guide urges students to follow the process of: Get a Kit, Make a Plan, Be Informed. 

There has been no official response from the University in regard to potential closures; student and faculty safety will come first. This was made evident with closures during Hurricane Charley in 2004. 

However, per The University of South Florida System Hurricane Guide, “If USF lies within the National Hurricane Center’s (NHC) Five-Day (120-hour) Cone of Uncertainty, USF will monitor reports by the NHC and National Weather Service regarding the storm’s characteristics (size, intensity, speed, and projected place of landfall) and the projected impact on our area. These reports and the actions taken by local government will guide the USF System in its decision to cancel classes, close campuses, or evacuate campuses.”

Before declaring an official state of emergency on Monday for all of Florida’s counties, Scott said via twitter that he is, “continuing to coordinate with emergency management officials as we monitor Irma.”