Hurricanes Irma and Harvey: Manhattan College Responds

The National Hurricane Center warned of Hurricane Irma to be a “life-threatening surge and wind,” according to The New York Times.

The storm’s outer bands hit the Florida Keys on Saturday morning and the Caribbean, where more than 20 people were killed. Residents in Barbuda and St. Martin suffered excessive damage from Irma.

A storm-surge warning was in effect across much of South Florida, including the Keys. Voluntary or mandatory evacuation orders were in place in Miami-Dade County, the Keys and portions of numerous other counties.

“Today is the day to do the right thing for your family and get inland to safety,” Governor Scott said in an interview with The New York Times.

Three people were killed in Puerto Rico, and around two-thirds of the population lost electricity, which was far less than what was originally predicted.

Irma left a trail of destruction in the Caribbean, prompting officials to direct millions to leave their homes in one of the largest emergency evacuations in American history.

Claudia Ramirez, a junior from Puerto Rico felt anxious before its arrival to the island.

“I felt like I wanted to cry because I couldn’t contribute anything. I wanted an update every ten minutes but my parents calmed me down through the phone,” Ramirez said.

Aside from communicating with her family, Ramirez kept in contact with her family through social media.

“My professors have been truly interested in knowing how I’ve been and how my family has managed so I’ve felt a lot of support from the Manhattan College community,” Ramirez said.

For Valeria Rodriguez, another junior from Puerto Rico, the hurricane distracted her from all responsibilities.

“When the news started reporting the magnitude of Hurricane Irma, I got very nervous, scared and completely distracted from everything,” said Rodriguez.

“[After the hurricane had passed] I was super relieved, now I’m afraid for my family in Florida,” said Rodriguez.

For this generation of college students, social media has played a huge role in staying communicated in the midst of a crisis.

“I mostly check Twitter and Facebook to see what friends back home are saying and doing. News headlines are so dramatic and scary most of the time, it’s hard to look away,” said Katherine Rojas, a senior from Florida.

For Rojas, the feelings have been quite different.

“I generally feel a sense of guilt that I’m safe over here in great weather while they have to be fearful,” Rojas said. “It sucks.”

Fabian Pena, another senior from Florida, commented on the situation.

“I just try to stay in contact and help anyway I can even though I’m not physically there,” said Pena. “This hurricane has me concerned about the well being of my whole family.”

Rojas went a step beyond and reiterated that Puerto Rico and Florida are not the only ones affected by the magnitude of this event.

“I’m worried about people in low-income areas who maybe can’t afford steel shutters or just didn’t have enough time to prepare in general,” said Rojas.

“My mom is a nurse and is being sent to volunteer for a special needs shelter in Miami, so I’m really glad that at least some measures are being taken to protect people.”

Relief agencies are still scrambling in the wake of Hurricane Harvey were bracing for the additional strain of yet another disaster, according to the New York Post.