I apologize for the leave of absence from the blog! Life has been very crazy for me; somewhat of a whirlwind. I’m excited to be back blogging!
As you may have seen, there was just a hurricane that hit Florida. Being from Seattle, I had no idea of what experiencing a hurricane was actually like. I was hearing a lot of different things from the news, friends, and native Floridians about what to do. Of course, my parents and friends back home in Seattle were very worried about me, but I managed to make it through!
I evacuated down to Fort Myers, FL, which is an hour south of Tampa. We left on Wednesday night, since classes were cancelled Thursday and Friday. I was concerned about my dorm room in McKay being damaged by winds or rain, so I took my valuables with me. Traffic wasn’t horrible heading down to Fort Myers, since we were traveling in the opposite direction of most people who were evacuating. We certainly had it much easier than some of my friends who were on the road for more than 10 hours!
It is hard to describe the vibe on campus on Wednesday. Students were very worried about what to do and where to go. In addition, the Career Expo was scheduled for Thursday, with Homecoming on the weekend. It was definitely one of the worst weeks for a hurricane to hit, since all of the major events on campus were that week, as well as a lot of midterm exams. It seemed as though most people in the area weren’t taking the hurricane seriously until Wednesday morning. That is when the panic set in. Every conversation you overheard was about the hurricane. People were frantically trying to book hotel rooms, find gas, and purchase sand bags. Once the University announced classes and the Career Expo were cancelled, most students evacuated from Daytona Beach. It actually was quite beautiful to see the campus community come together to help each other out. People were offering up their hotel rooms, homes, and cars to help others find a safe place to evacuate to. I was receiving texts all day from people, some who were just acquaintances, making sure I had a safe place to go.
We were all very blessed that we were able to evacuate safely. Most of us kept our families and friends updated via Facebook. Many of us were worried that we wouldn’t have homes to go back to in Daytona. There was a lot of uncertainty about the force and direction of the storm. Throughout the storm, we all continued to check-in to make sure everyone had electricity, gas, and a roof over their head.
Down in Fort Myers, we did not experience hardly any bad weather. It was windy on Thursday, and there were a few rain bands, although nothing major. We were glued to the Weather Channel all day Thursday and Friday, watching and praying that Matthew wouldn’t completely devastate Daytona Beach.
Our prayers were answered. Daytona Beach was lucky, and did not get directly hit, like was originally projected. Hurricane Matthew was also a Category 3 when it passed Daytona, as compared to the projected Category 4. Of course, a hurricane always causes damage, but we were blessed to not have a lot of severe damage to buildings all over the city. The beachfront and riverfront areas had a lot of flooding and damage, though.
I took a drive down the A1A on Sunday evening, and got very emotional when I saw the damage to the beachfront residences and businesses. In addition, power was out in a lot of places. Traffic lights were not working, street signs were missing, trees were all over, and there was debris all over the road.
We are very thankful for the servicemen and women who helped, and are continuing to help, us to recover from the storm. In addition, Embry-Riddle faculty and staff worked very hard to make sure the students were safe during the storm. Facilities and Maintenance workers have been busy cleaning up trees, restoring power, and fixing buildings, and we are very grateful for that. Power crews came from all over the United States to help restore power to the area. It is in times like these when you really see a city, community, and country come together to help each other out.
Until next time,