Safety from Matthew



During the week of Oct. 3 Hurricane Matthew slowly came towards the east coast of Florida. The strength of the storm and path left a lot of uncertainty.

For students living hundreds of miles away from their homes, last-minute evacuating was not an option. All on-campus students at Jacksonville University were moved to Oak Hall or Botts Hall during the duration of Matthew.

While inconvenient, many students spoke well of the experience and were appreciative towards the school for how everything was handled.

“I had four people staying in my room. It was like a giant sleepover,” said Nicole Buczkowski, a residential advisor in Oak Hall at JU.

While it was a bit more crowded than usual, the living situation was surprisingly comfortable, according to Adda Laplaceliere Fuenmayor, a Village Apartment resident staying in Buczkowski’s room. Rooms that were evacuated were not open to other residents unless approved by the current resident. Many RAs, like Buczkowski, opened their door to incoming temporary residents.

“Despite the fact that there were three of us in the room, we were not too uncomfortable,” says Laplaceliere Fuenmayor. “The two other girls had to sleep on the rug though.”

Meal time was different. Everyone was sent down to the first floor lobbies of the Oak and Botts halls for any food.

“It never felt crowded except for when food was served but that can’t be avoided,” said Daniel Farrell, a resident in Oak Hall.

Food was provided by Aramark, in the style of a buffet, similar to how the school normally runs their cafeteria.

“It was really good and convenient and safe,” says Farrell, “Honestly sometimes better than the actual food served in the cafeteria.”

Farrell was not the only one who enjoyed the food arrangements.

“I personally was impressed by how above and beyond Aramark went,” says Katie Tillis, another RA in Oak Hall at JU. “Throughout this entire ordeal, we ate the best they had to offer, when most others in town were eating canned foods and cold cuts.”

While Village Apartments and North Hall lost electricity for an entire day, Oak and Botts only lost electricity for 5 minutes on Friday and water was cut off on Saturday as well in all locations on campus.

“It was inconvenient but not a threat to safety,” says Farrell.

Communication was a bit of an issue, according to Farrell. Perhaps in the future, the school could find a better form of communication with students.

During the storm, information was spread by RAs being texted, and then knocking on residents’ doors. Many people missed important information because they were either sleeping or had headphones on, and were unable to hear the knocking.

“It makes me wonder what sort of preparations for communication they would have if there was a tornado,” says Farrell. “The school never really made use of the mass text system they have. It would have been good for students to get texts from the school with updates.”

But overall, the campus provided very well for students in an unfortunate situation.

“It’s good that they took precautions in case something really bad happened,” says Laplaceliere Fuenmayor. “I’m glad we were not affected too terribly.”

Apart from being nervous in a widely unfamiliar situation, many students agree that the ordeal was not as bad as they were anticipating.

“It was a lot of long, crazy hours,” said Tillis. “But we all made it through safely, and that’s all I could’ve asked for.”