How Stetson responded to Hurricane Irma

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In preparation for Hurricane Irma, Stetson University had students evacuate Wednesday, September 6, 2017. Hurricane Irma was predicted to be a level 5 hurricane. The most recent update showed its path directly through central Florida.

The university sent a total of 14 hurricane updates until students were able to return to campus on Sunday, September 17 with classes resuming on that Monday. The first hurricane update was sent on September 5at 12:30 p.m. By 4:30 p.m. on September 6, students were informed that classes on the Deland campus would continue until 11:30 a.m. on September 7 and have until 10:00 a.m. on Friday, September 8 to leave.

Roughly 32 percent of Stetson students are from out of state. Not all students were able to drive home or buy plane tickets to their state. There are also roughly 800 first year students. When surveyed, 5 out of 7 first year students felt nervous or stressed about the news of hurricane Irma while 18 out of 27 total students said the same. 

Many returning students, however, believed that Stetson gave an ample amount of time and notice, especially when compared to Hurricane Matthew, which occurred the previous year. Fourty percent of the surveyed students said that they believed Stetson’s Communication Services alerted campus within a reasonable amount of time. Thirty-two percent said no, while 25 percent said maybe.

There were many students posted updates on social media to explain and update their peers on the status of the school and the storm. One of these students was Student Government Association, Alyssa Morley, whose statement appears below:


A few responses from students that were surveyed on Stetson’s Communication are reprinted below:

“Much better than last year. They gave us plenty of time, although I was shocked that Stetson didn’t do more to provide emergency housing for students. Parents were promised at orientation that the university had a plan in place, but that did not seem to be the case at all.”

“It was much less rushed than the evacuation process last year, but I’m sure that the freshmen were caught off guard by having to up and leave their dorms. Now that we have had to evacuate for hurricanes two years in a row, I would strongly suggest that Stetson go through hurricane protocol during FOCUS orientation in future years and let everyone know that evacuation is a possibility so future freshmen are not caught off guard by this process.”

During the evacuation and recovery, the Stetson community came together to support friends and families with homes impacted by the storm for the second time. Hopefully, this is the last time a hurricane takes a week away from the school semester.