Irma Turns Civic Center Into Second FSU Home

Sep 10, 2017

Shortly before curfew Sunday night, about 150 Florida State University students lounged on inflatable matrasses and sleeping bags on the Tallahassee-Leon County Civic Center floor.

A group of off-campus FSU students from Deland chose to weather Irma at the Leon County Civic Center. More than 2,000 registered when university administrators put the word out on Saturday.
Credit James Clarke Ash

Finding Nemo splashed across the Jumbotron high above the arena floor, but Noah Hertz and a group of Deland friends were more interested in cards than the Disney hit.  

Hertz, a second-year political science major, says he and his friends expected a long night and didn’t come empty handed.  

“Two giant bags of egg rolls, half of a loaf of homemade bread, a jar of peanut butter, we got what, a bag a bagels in your backpack? Yeah, some Pop Tarts. Yeah, mostly carbs. We could last about a week.”

Relocating to the Civic Center was an easy decision for pre-med student Zoe Jones, who is minoring in emergency management. 

“Well, we actually live next door to where the Club Coliseum was and they recently destroyed it, so our entire back window faces giant piles of scrap metal and rubber and concrete and bricks, and so they started destroying it like Thursday, and we were like, that’s probably not good to be around.”

Hurricane Irma was the last thing Austrian exchange students Rafaela Fuchs and Katie Sirakova imagined when they chose FSU for a semester of hospitality management studies.  

The young women had never experienced a hurricane, and both were grateful to their program coordinator for looking out for them. Sirakova speaks first.

“Our….uhm…how is she called? Oh, she’s our exchange coordinator. She told us there was a shelter here. We were thinking about going somewhere else, driving somewhere, but she told us it was too dangerous. But we’re not from here and we don’t know our way.”

More than 2,000 students registered for civic center space when the FSU alert system sent out word yesterday afternoon, said Student Government Director Danielle Morgan Acosta.

“So we’re really just here to make sure that we’re providing the best services for our students, and getting meals to our students in the residence halls, and encouraging our students to think smart and safely about how to weather the storm.”