The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

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Hurricane Season 2017: Irma

SJU students who have family in the Caribbean Islands and Florida reflect on damage caused by the category 5 hurricane.
Tree uprooted in a backyard in Florida as a result of 100 mph winds.

This past month, two record breaking hurricanes have impacted St. John’s students. From the destruction that left Southern Texas flooded, to the more recent Hurricane Irma that BBC states affected over 1.2 million people in the Caribbean alone. Sweeping through several tropical countries like Puerto Rico, Cuba, Barbuda, Antigua and Saint Martin and the southeast of the United States, left many students afraid and worried for the safety of family members.

Junior Alyssa Morris and Sophomore Aria Hall are both students from Miami, Fla. who stressed their concerns and fears for family members who were heavily impacted by Irma.

Hall said, “I was on campus when Irma was announced, hit and left, it was hard to see places I grew up in, so severely damaged within seconds.”

Morris was also in fear for her mother and sister in Miami, saying, “Knowing that they would face Irma alone with no power and having no connection with them really took a toll on me mentally and emotionally.”

The damages of Hurricane Irma varied among the different communities in Florida. Hall said that her family and neighbors endured damages to their homes and their communities.

“There are holes in my roof, a tree in my neighbor’s roof, destruction of my mother’s work, and flooding in my brother’s high school.”

Her home, along with many other Florida residents’, had to be boarded up with planks of wood to prepare for the impact of Hurricane Irma and to “protect themselves in anyway they knew how to.”

“We weren’t hit as bad as we thought, however I still made an impact on the area along with my house and close by family friends,” said Morris.

Irma Hurricane over the Carribean, NASA

Hurricane Irma caused severe power outages leaving many Floridians without power and severe flooding. The impact of Hurricane Irma stretched all across the Caribbean, impacting several countries.

Caribbean Students Association (CSA) President, junior student Amenkha Sembenu, has family in the Caribbean who were also devastated by the effects of Hurricane Irma.

Sembenu, who has family in Antigua, Trinidad and Barbuda, was terrified when she saw where the hurricane’s path was headed.

“I was upset, scared, nervous, anxious,” she said. “I mean all type of feelings start running through you ya know.”

Sembenu, like many other St. John’s students, played the waiting game of trying to get in contact with family members who were so many thousands of miles away without any information.

“My cousin was also going to claim land in Barbuda, but now we are devastated because Barbuda is basically destroyed!” said Sembenu when describing the distress that family members are trying to build up from.

Being so far from family during these times of disaster can leave lasting imprints of being scared for family, but Sembenu is tackling that head on with CSA.

“We are starting to collect a drive at our food sale on Monday and have located locations to send items and money to.”

Sembenu urged, “These islands are popular places, including Florida, where people like to visit, but when it comes time for a natural disaster no one wants to donate!”

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