Students reflect on peak of hurricane season

Coconut Grove felt the influence of hurricane-force winds last week as Hurricane Irma left many boats damaged and completely devastated at the marina. Photo credit: Hunter Crenian

Around this time last year, Hurricane Irma devastated South Florida. The Category 4 storm left a serious mark on the South Florida community, including the University of Miami’s campus. UM students had to evacuate on-campus housing and classes were canceled for almost three weeks.

“One of my friends told me that it was bad,” said Aryaman Puri, a freshman from Mumbai, India. “All his exams got moved to the final two weeks of the semester. I’m not prepared for that happening.”

Although UM recovered quickly last year after the university dispatched crews that worked around the clock to repair water damage and clean up debris, remnants of Irma’s destruction still haunt some parts of the Miami area.

Miami’s tropical climate and coastal location make it particularly hurricane prone, yet many UM students say they are unprepared to deal with the consequences of another hurricane.

“I have no plan,” said Puri, a financing major. “I’m going to wing it. If there is a hurricane tomorrow, I’d ask my friends from Miami what to do.”

Katerina Beini, a freshman international student, expressed concern about being in a foreign country without family during a hurricane.

“I’m really not prepared,” said Beini, who a business management major. “My family is in Greece and I don’t have family here, so I probably wouldn’t be able to stay.”

But some upperclassman said they learned their lesson after living through Irma.

Kentucky native Caroline Culbreth, a second-year graduate student, said she learned how to prepare for hurricanes for the first time during Irma.

“You really need to think about it before it happens,” said Culbreth, who is pursuing a degree in community and social change. “Be prepared really well in advance because things are not going to be available once it comes up. I didn’t realize how much of a pain it would be to do that.”

Aileen Cruz-Lezama, a sophomore microbiology and immunology major from Lakeland, Fla., said she already has a plan for buying supplies in the event of a hurricane. She said that Hurricane Irma taught her the importance of preparation, especially for those who’ve never experienced a major storm before.

“Keep track of the weather and if something comes up, go ahead and book a train ticket and hope you just don’t need to use it,” Cruz-Lezama said.

Tropical storm Gordon threatened South Florida Sept. 3, just a few weeks after the start of peak hurricane season in late August. However, the storm veered from the predicted path and made landfall in the Gulf Coast Wednesday.

UM’s Emergency Management Office encourages students to ask their families about a plan of evacuation well before a storm hits.

At, students can find a list of hurricane-preparation steps that address the various components of storm readiness. These include a range of subjects such as communication, supplies, protection of valuables, protection of data, transportation and shelter.

Miami-Dade County provides additional tips for preparedness in their online 2018 Official Hurricane Readiness Guide and the National Hurricane Center.