I’m lucky to be okay.
Hurricane preparation started on Friday when I first learned of Ian’s existence, then as a tropical storm. I didn’t think too much of it until the storm kept gathering strength and it was clearly going to hit parts of Florida. I started checking the National Hurricane Center’s tracker, which is updated every three hours to keep an eye on the storm (the graphic archive can be found here).
On Monday, the university sent out a few emails stating that there were no hurricane plans in place (such as canceling classes or closing down campus). The latest Monday email did state that the Emergency Operations Team would meet at 10:30 AM on Tuesday to discuss and make decisions. The next email came around noon on Tuesday, stating that classes on Wednesday through Friday would be canceled, and the university itself would close at 5 PM on Wednesday.
I only had one class on Tuesday, which was from 11:15 AM to 12:30 PM. During that class, the hurricane closure notice hit, and I watched the class split between freaking out and being excited that class was canceled. I’m from Kentucky, so I’ve never lived through a hurricane- I’ve only received the ending thunderstorms of hurricanes, and by then, they’re not bad.
After class, I started my official hurricane preparations. While the Daytona Beach area remained in the cone of uncertainty, we were usually on the edge of the cone so I didn’t do a lot of preparing beforehand. I first had to figure out if I wanted to evacuate or shelter in place. I talked to a few people- one meteorology major, a pilot with a meteorology minor, and a pilot who interned with the National Weather Service. All three predicted that it wouldn’t hit our area detrimentally and that it would be okay to stay if I prepared.
I didn’t really want to leave since my dorm room is set up nicely and I could easily stay in there. Once I had made the decision to stay, I immediately went to the local Walmart to try and buy hurricane supplies- water, nonperishable food that did not need refrigeration, and anything else I thought I might need. I also tried looking for flashlights, but the store was out of a lot of outdoorsy stuff.
The first rain associated with the very outer bands was only an hour long, and it hit while I was inside Walmart. The eye of the hurricane had just passed over Cuba, but one small detached section of the rain extended to the Daytona area. I ended up running to my car and throwing everything in the back during the rain.
Tuesday night was kind of chaotic. All of my meetings for the week were canceled, and the ERAU shuttle service was stopping at 5 PM instead of 8 PM. By then I was safely back in my dorm, continuing my hurricane preparations. I charged all of my devices and began working on homework that I had due during the week in case the power went out and I couldn’t do it otherwise.
I heard from a few friends that they evacuated the Diamond DA-42s (the multi-engine aircraft) to Dothan, AL while most of the Cessnas (single-engine) were stored in a local hangar. Unfortunately, even with them packed like sardines, there was not enough space to put all of them in the hangar, so a few remained chained down to the ramp.
I ended up staying up until the 11 PM update from the National Hurricane Center, just to see what was happening with the hurricane. It had not hit the Tampa area yet, but they had already begun seeing rain.
Wednesday came, and when I woke up, there was a strong downpour. I definitely didn’t dare venture outside, but I still had power and running water. My professors with assignments due on weeknights had all moved the due dates to next week when school was back in session, which I was thankful for. Around 11:30 AM, I did get the hurricane warning emergency alert from my phone.
I didn’t do a whole lot on Wednesday and didn’t venture outside. It was a pretty boring day, but I did keep my devices charging in case we lost power. I did keep my phone charging and emergency alerts on- hurricanes can produce tornadoes, and I wanted to make sure I was safe. Obviously, hurricanes can flood the area, but I wasn’t as worried since I live on the third floor of my building.
At around 6 AM on Thursday, my phone awoke me with a flash flood warning alert until 10 AM. I ended up going back to sleep and let the storm rage on outside. The center of the then-tropical storm didn’t pass over Daytona Beach directly, but it went over the Cape Canaveral area around 8 AM on Thursday.
Thursday was… interesting. Ian was still raging, but only at the force of a tropical storm. Volusia County was under a curfew and people weren’t supposed to leave their houses for any reason. Thursday was another slow day- I did end up doing some homework since the power was still on, but that was really it.
Friday was more laid back. I got to see the sun for the first time in a few days, and everything for me was semi-regular. I never lost power or water throughout the storm, but I know several people in the Daytona area did. I checked up on my friends, and then it was kind of back to normal for me- do homework due in the week, study for upcoming quizzes and tests, and wait for Monday.
All of my professors have been very understanding during the hurricane. Some of them lost power themselves, so they understand the struggles that we face (especially off-campus students). The professors with assignments and tests in the week have all been postponed until the second half of the week (Wednesday and on) with room for negotiation if students are severely affected. The university also sent out an email that stated students will not be penalized for traveling due to the hurricane since flights into Daytona are still sparse.
Daytona Beach is still cleaning up the hurricane’s damage, and it probably will be for a few weeks or so. I know people who lost a lot in the hurricane, and ERAU is setting up an emergency fund for those affected. I’m looking towards the future- what’s damaged is damaged, and I plan on helping those affected as much as I can. I hope that the ERAU community will be doing well by the time Open House rolls around, which is in about a month. Maybe I’ll see you there- and if not, I’ll see you in the next post!