LAKELAND, Fla. (WFLA) – College campuses are closing across the Tampa Bay Area in preparation for Hurricane Irma.
The USF Campuses and the University of Tampa are both closing from Thursday through Monday.
The entire Florida Southern College campus in Lakeland is being evacuated. Students must be out of the dorms by 5 p.m. on Thursday, and classes will not resume until next Thursday.
The evacuations have out of state students scrambling.
“About five of my friends are piling into one truck and heading to New York,” one student told WFLA.
“I don’t really have anywhere else to go in Florida since I’m from Wisconsin. I don’t have any family here,” Samantha Zimmerman said.
She had no choice but to pack up her car and drive home.
“I thought this was a better option than the flights because they were going so fast it was crazy. We would look at one and then it would be gone a few seconds later. I couldn’t find one for less than $800.00,” Zimmerman said.
Zimmerman and her roommate will spend more than 20 hours on the road.
“She is from Illinois, and I’m from central Wisconsin so I’m dropping her off on my way,” she said.
The school also has supplies and housing for students who can’t find somewhere to go.
“In everything we do, the safety of our students is of paramount importance,” Florida Southern Vice President of Advancement Robert Tate said.
Tate said, to his knowledge, this is the only time campus has been evacuated for a hurricane.
HURRICANE IRMA COVERAGE –
- The latest on Hurricane Irma from Storm Team 8
- 2017 Hurricane Guide
- Hurricane Irma: County-by-county updates on storm preparations
- CHECKLIST: Disaster supply list for hurricane
- Where to get sandbags in the Tampa Bay area
- How to get water even if the stores are out
- Hurricane Irma: Local school districts to decide about closures
- The one thing you must do for your pet as Irma approaches
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers-Miami Dolphins game moved to November 19
- Gov. Scott declares state of emergency in all Fla. counties in response to Hurricane Irma
- Gov. Scott encouraging Floridians to be prepared for hurricane
- AG Bondi activates Florida’s price gouging hotline in wake of declared state of emergency
- Bottled water, supplies going fast as Tampa Bay area prepares for possibility of Hurricane Irma
- Tampa Bay area residents need to get hurricane plans in place while skies still blue