A lifetime in Moscow hasn’t prepared Masha Ovespyan for Florida’s unpredictable hurricane season.
A week after returning to Gainesville as a Russian international student, Ovespyan, a 20-year-old UF political science sophomore, is facing her first major hurricane.
Hurricane Dorian is projected to hit Florida as a Category 4 storm as it increases in intensity and hits the east coast this weekend. Wednesday night, Gov. Ron DeSantis declared a state of emergency in anticipation of Dorian’s landfall. As of Thursday night, it is unclear where in Florida Dorian will make a direct hit.
“I don’t know what I should be doing,” she said. “Well, at least I have enough food and entertainment to not leave my apartment for some time.”
While students originally from Florida tend to make memes about hurricanes this time of year, some international and out-of-state students who have never experienced such a strong storm are at a loss on how to prepare.
Lucky for Ovsepyan, she has three roommates who are Florida natives. Although they are there to provide support, Ovsepyan is unsure about how UF is going to handle Dorian.
“This might sound weird, but a part of me is actually curious about how everything is going to be managed at UF,” she said. “What are the rules, procedures, what people are supposed to do to stay safe?”
For those wondering the same thing, here are some recommendations from the UF Emergency Management on what you can do to prepare for Hurricane Dorian.
1. Prepare a storm supply kit.
UF Emergency Management recommends having a disaster kit of supplies that will last you at least 72 hours, said UF spokesperson Steve Orlando. Students should have essentials like water, medicine, a portable charger, extra batteries, a flashlight, candles and non-perishable food handy. Fill your car tank with gasoline and fill as many bottles and jars with fresh water as possible.
2. Stay indoors and away from windows.
Students are strongly recommended to stay away from doors and windows if winds get too strong, according to the UF Emergency Management Gator Safe Hurricane Brochure. If students can’t stay in a room without windows, they are encouraged to seek shelter in a closet, hallway or a bathtub.
3. Turn off electronics.
Losing power is always a possibility in storms of this size. If students want to save the papers they’ve been working on, the UF Emergency Management hurricane brochure recommends unplugging big electronics for safety. If not done, devices could short-circuit and completely shut off. If power does go out, try not to open your fridge. If you must, do so quickly to preserve the cold air.
4. Save your ride.
Park your car and/or scooter on high ground if you find yourself in a place that floods easily. If you have a bike, park it inside of your home to prevent it from getting damaged. Students with cars and scooters should also attempt to park their vehicle in a garage to prevent it from getting hit by debris.
The Alligator newsroom staff recommends: keeping a deck of cards to pass the time if you lose power, filling your bathtub with water if you lose water pressure and keeping an eye out if Waffle House closes. Waffle House is known for its disaster preparedness and staying open during extreme weather, or reopening quickly afterwards. The chain's policy has become the unofficial way to track the severity of a natural disaster. If a Waffle House closes, that’s how you know it’s bad.
Students waiting for class to be canceled should hear an announcement today, Orlando said. On campus groups, Emergency Management, and top officials are meeting to discuss the possibility.
This GOES-16 satellite image taken Wednesday, Aug. 28, 209, at 17:20 UTC and provided by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), shows Dorian, a Category 1 hurricane, crossing over the U.S. and British Virgin Islands. Forecasters say it could grow to Category 3 status as it nears the U.S. mainland as early as the weekend. (NOAA via AP)