By: Grant Goetcheus
Photo by Maggie Jones
On Sunday, Sept. 10, Hurricane Irma, a Category 4 storm, hit the southern point of Fla. According to the New York Times, Irma is the most powerful storm to form in the Atlantic Ocean. Even though the storm hit parts of Florida and the Caribbean, it still has a connection to the University of Findlay.
Maggie Jones, a sophomore at UF, has family on Marco Island, the southwest coast of Fla. Her mom, dad, and sister moved there on May 1, 2017. This was their first encounter with a hurricane.
“They spent a week prior to the hurricane getting prepared. They decided at the last minute to leave the island and move 10 miles inland and stay with friends in Naples not because of the wind, but because of the surge,” stated Jones. “My family has a house right on the water so this would have been devastating. They told me the day they were being evacuated they looked around the house trying to figure out what was the most important things they wanted to save.”
The hurricane destroyed communication networks leaving those that wanted to reach out to their loved ones and friends that were in the hurricane’s path concerned.
“On Sunday, I was very scared because my parents had very spotty cell service which continued until Wednesday. I had a hard time getting ahold of them to make sure they were ok,” Jones said. “When I did get ahold of them, I then had the job of calling all my family and friends to update them.”
She went on to explain what her family experienced while they were in Naples, Fla. during Hurricane Irma.
“They also had no power where they were staying so they had no idea what was going on in Naples or Marco Island,” Jones stated. They said the hurricane sounded like a freight train, and the pressure caused their ears to pop. They could hear things blowing into other things and trees falling down.”
As this was her family’s first time experiencing a hurricane, both Jones and her family were worried they were not taking the proper precautions.
“I had no idea what to expect. I was constantly calling them to get updates before the storm, I wanted to be with them while this happened,” Jones said. “I hate the fact that I had to use Facebook for updates on my family. The fear of the unknown was the worst.”
Jones explains that it is hard going to school in Ohio after a disaster like Hurricane Irma struck her new home in the South.
“Honestly, I hate that I had to be here at school while this happened because I feel torn, I want to be there to help,” she states. “FEMA has not been there yet to help these people. The army is there handing out water and food.”
On Monday, Sept. 11, Vice President for Student Affairs David Emsweller sent out an UF Update about Irma.
“I would ask that all of us in Oiler Nation keep those impacted in our thoughts and prayers. If you are from an area that has experienced damage from the storm, and you are concerned about family members, please don’t hesitate to contact Student Affairs, the Oiler Success Center, or Counseling Services for support,” Emsweller wrote.
If you want to make a difference in the lives of those impacted both Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma, visit RedCross.org to learn more.