By Scribe Staff
Update: Seminole State College faculty, staff, and students returned to school Monday, Sept. 18 after closing the campus for more than a week.
The reaction of Seminole State College students and teachers to the approach of powerful Hurricane Irma appeared to depend on their previous experience with the storms.
“I’m moderately worried,” said student Skyland Pompura, 20. “Recently, we’ve had decent luck, but it’s a Category 5 and a direct hit would be bad.”
Pompura has prepared for the storm by placing sand bags. He said his family has “a ton of water, snacks, and candles, and are planning to clear out anything that can blow away.”
He also had some advice for any newcomers to Central Florida.
“The best thing you can do is be prepared and make sure your family is safe,” he said.
Pompura and others spoke with The Seminole Scribe on Thursday before the campus closed due to the hurricane.
Meteorologists have described Hurricane Irma as one of the strongest storms on record, even more powerful than the destructive and deadly Hurricane Andrew, which hit South Florida in 1992.
Irma’s track as of Friday has it hitting at the southern part of the Florida peninsula, then raging a northern trek directly through the Orlando area starting later on Sunday, Sept. 10, and into Monday. Seminole State College closed its campuses from today through Monday.
The College urged employees and students to monitor the Seminole State Alert website (seminolestate.edu/alert/) for additional information as the storm nears.
“In an emergency, the College’s Emergency Response Team will post important announcements, updates and resource information on this site,” read a statement on the website.
Seminole State student Matthew Boyle said that during the storm he would join his father at the county emergency response center.
“I’d rather be here to help damage control once it’s over,” he explained.
David Moradian is professor and program manager for Entrepreneurship at Seminole State. He said he would be trying to prepare for his family and students.
“I’m trying to extend the due dates, in case there’s no electricity, they cannot do any, you know, assignments online, so I extended assignments,” Moradian said.
Some students weren’t concerned about the hurricane. “I just laugh at the whole thing, they told us the same thing last year, and it didn’t happen so I’m like, OK.,” said student Janece Noble. James Quilton also said he wasn’t too worried. “Lived in Florida long enough to not overly prepare. [I’m] more of a seer than believer. I’ll believe it all once it is here.”
A student named Christina said she has lived here her entire life.
“I’m used to hurricanes,” she said. “I think it won’t be as bad as [Hurricane] Harvey, because this is as big as Andrew was, and after Andrew came and destroyed some buildings, we came up with new building codes. That, and our ground is highly absorbent because its mostly sand. It’s the wind speeds I’m worried about mainly, but I don’t think there’ll be much damage.”
Others were taking necessary steps.
“Putting sheets of plastic on sliding glass door,” said a student named Ray when asked how he is preparing. “Sealing the house to avoid getting water in the house. Mulch bags to keep the plastic in place too because the lines are too long for sand. Not much else.”
Ray works as a cashier at a local grocery. “Everything’s gone in the store,” he said. “Water and bread are completely out.”
Mariah, 19, a mathematics education major at Seminole State, said this is her first experience with a hurricane. She moved here from New York.
“We started collecting water and snacks,” she said. “We have an emergency plan in case of evacuation to go to stay with family in North Carolina.”
She said she has noticed a prevailing attitude of people who have lived here for a while. “Everyone seems to be so nonchalant about it like it’s no big deal, but it seems like a big deal.”
Construction Management student Gavin, 19, said he hopes the water levels don’t reach flood stage. Business student Starr, 18, said she didn’t know how worried she should be. She chuckled and said, “I just hope I don’t die.”
A Humanities major, Haile, 18, said she wasn’t too concerned because she’s been through it before and she said she feels safe in her house.
“I just bought some water and filled up with gas a few days ago,” Haile said.
Sarah, a full-time student, said she plans to do homework during the storm. She also said she waited for three hours at Publix to a shipment of water to arrive.
Seminole State student Seymour Fox, 80, said he is “too old to worry. What will be will be.” He said he is staying home, but he is worried about one thing: whether his daughter and grand-daughters are taking enough precautions.
Students Julia and Britney, both 18, said they were not too concerned. They may get some more water, but Julia said a previous hurricane, Matthew in 2016, caused people to be lackadaisical about hurricanes. Still, both women advised students to take care of themselves.
“Stay safe, I hope no one gets hurt,” Britney said.
Contributing to this story was Lillian Moore, David Savetman, Nicholas Rodriguez, Conner Wight, Angela LaCour, Brandon Paschall, Angela Becker, Emily Trosper, and Andrew Mack.