Hurricane Irma: Florida Southern College in Lakeland evacuating campus

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.


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