University Of Miami Declares State Of Emergency Ahead Of Irma

Mary Lou Lang Contributor
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University of Miami declared a state of emergency on Tuesday afternoon, cancelling classes starting on Wednesday and urged all students to leave South Florida ahead of Hurricane Irma.

UM President Julio Frenk, after a meeting with his cabinet, decided to close the Coral Gable and Marine campuses on Wednesday through Sunday.

“The potential for impacts to South Florida are increasing and plans are being rapidly implemented to ensure the safety of our University Community and facilities. The earliest time South Florida would experience impacts is Friday,” the university said in an announcement on its website.

“University leadership has decided to cancel all classes and student-related events on the Coral Gables and Rosenstiel School campuses Wednesday through Friday, September 6-8. All weekend classes are also cancelled. The University is strongly encouraging all students on the Coral Gables and Marine campuses to leave South Florida,” the university stated.

Students will be given 48 hours to return before classes resume.

“I want to assure you that your safety comes first,” said Frenk in a Facebook post to students. “While we cannot predict Irma’s precise path and intensity, quick preparation and communications are critical to safety before, during, and after the storm.”

The University’s Emergency Operations Center also will be activated on Wednesday to ensure a coordinated response over the upcoming days.

Patrick Petrillo, a student at UM, posted on Facebook, “Thankful for a smart decision by The U. Will be heading home tomorrow to start shuttering up,” he wrote. Petrillo lives in Coral Gables, Fla.

Kim Garrity, whose son is a student at UM, told The Daily Caller she was grateful the university made this decision.

“I do think it is the right decision. Even though we trust them with our children, they cannot be responsible against Mother Nature,” Garrity said.

“I am glad that they have the safety of the kids in mind,” she said, adding that it difficult on the parents. “Callum is a sophomore and the same thing happened to us last year. I was in a panic. This year he is a little more mature, knows more people and has his car so he can drive north.”

Some college students had to stand in line at ATMs to get cash and others were reportedly paying exorbitantly high airline fares to get back home, according to the Miami Herald.

Other schools in Florida also announced they were closing this week in advance of Hurricane Irma.

“We have been watching Hurricane Irma closely before making our decision to close schools,” said Palm Beach School Superintendent Robert Avossa in a prepared statement.

“While landfall is not expected until Sunday, we have a responsibility to ensure our personnel have ample time to prepare before tropical force winds arrive in the area,” said Avossa.

Miami-Dade Schools also announced they will be closing, and Broward Schools also said on their website they are closing due to Irma.

In addition, Monroe County schools, which cover the Florida Keys, announced they will be closed starting Wednesday until further notice.

According to the latest National Hurricane Center 5 p.m. advisory, Hurricane Irma is a Category 5 storm, packing winds of 185 miles per hour.