Hurricanes are large, spiraling tropical storms that can pack wind speeds of over 160 mph and unleash more than 2.4 trillion gallons of rain a day. 40% of the hurricanes that occur in the United States hit Florida, so it is very important to be alert and prepared. Hurricane season spans from June 1st to November 30th, with August to November being the most active months in the season. Hurricanes require proactive methods; it is important to keep track of the weather during these months, have a plan, and maintain a disaster kit all year round. The kit should contain items such as a flashlight, whistle, personal hygiene items, and non-perishable food. Visit ready.gov for more information on building and maintaining a disaster supply kit.
If a hurricane is approaching the Tampa Bay area the Housing & Residential Education staff will make every effort to alert residents. Depending on the storm's path and whether the university decides to cancel classes or close, a follow-up decision may be made to close all on-campus housing and evacuate all residents. If classes are cancelled or the campus closes and the decision is made not to evacuate housing, the residents may still be directed to move to other locations within the buildings as the potential for flooding increases.
In the event of a hurricane when classes are cancelled, residents are encouraged to evacuate to their homes unless traveling to their home will put them in the projected path of the storm. Most students and families prefer to be together during a serious storm.
If a mandatory evacuation plan is implemented, all residents will be required to leave. Residents unable to leave may be directed to a local Hillsborough County Shelter. The university will provide shuttle service to the shelter for residents without transportation. Residents must sign-out with a member of the Housing & Residential Education staff prior to evacuating. No students will be permitted to stay on-campus and the buildings will remain closed until the All Clear is given and reopening is announced to the community.
Students are requested to keep their radios tuned to a local station or the campus radio station (WUSF 89.7 FM) for storm advisories and general information. The following procedures are recommended in order to provide the maximum amount of safety and protection for those students remaining in our residence halls. The University, however, is not responsible for damages to or loss of personal property because of a hurricane.
Preparation Before the Hurricane Strikes
- All furniture, including beds, should be moved away from windows. All loose objects should be removed from the floor and secured in drawers or closets. Paper, books, etc., should not be left on tops of desks or dressers.
- Valuables should be placed in safekeeping. If evacuating, take valuables with you. All doors should be locked when the occupants are not in the room or apartment.
- Clean and fill wastebaskets with water. If the hurricane is a serious storm, our water supply may be cut off. If this were the case, the water stored would be needed for washing and flushing toilets. Fill several smaller containers with water for drinking purposes. If more drinking water is needed it will be made available through the Resident Assistant as soon as possible. Refrigerators should be turned to the coldest setting.
- Close all windows and window-blinds.
- Any resident who owns a car should see that the emergency brake is set and in park or reverse gear (standard transmission). All windows should be closed and the car locked. All cars must remain in assigned parking areas.
- Each student should provide their own flashlight in case of power failure. Only battery-powered lighting is allowable. Candles or other flame-type lighting are not allowable under any circumstance.
- Residents should provide their own non-perishable snack items. When it is possible to do so, the dining hall personnel will provide food for residents. If food must be brought to the residence halls, the Housing & Residential Education Staff will notify all students of the schedule and place of serving. Do not cook with charcoal or flame as poisonous fumes are released and could be lethal in a confined area.
- If evacuating, unplug all power cords and cover electronic equipment with plastic bags to minimize water damage. Completely empty and unplug your refrigerators, and wrap towels around the base to absorb water after they defrost.
Procedures During the Hurricane (if not evacuated)
- Always remain indoors until the storm has completely passed. Residents must not leave their living units until directed to do so by the Housing & Residential Education Staff. During the peak of the storm, for maximum protection, residents are to close room or bedroom doors and remain in the hallways. Be aware that there is always a lull in the storm when the eye (center) of the storm passes through the area, but the storm will begin again after the eye passes. Residents should plan to be in the interior corridors of the residence halls and remain away from danger areas, such as the glass windows and doors in the lobby areas of the halls or the bedrooms for many hours.
- In the event of power failure, there will be no elevator service. Do not attempt to travel between floors. First Aid and/or food service will be made available when the storm passes or power is restored.
- Do not attempt to open windows or doors to see what is happening outside.
- All accidents, injuries, broken windows, or excessive water must be reported to the Resident Assistant/ Community Manager.
- "Hurricane Parties" are only for the movies. Please do not drink alcohol. Everyone needs to think clearly during a hurricane.
Remaining calm, staying inside, and following the provided guidelines will help to minimize danger. If you have any questions, please contact a Housing & Residential Education staff member. Remember that all official emergency communications will be available through the USF Homepage and MoBull Messenger. Sign up to receive emergency notifications through MoBull.
Visit the USF Emergency Management webpage for more information regarding hurricane preparedness (this includes the full Hurricane Guide) and other campus safety initiatives.