6 Things That Happened On My Evacuation Journey

6 Things That Happened On My Evacuation Journey

Heading out west because Matthew, you are scary!

As fall break quickly approached, I was excited to be in my family's vacation spot in Boca Grande and be reunited with our dog. Meanwhile, Rollins College Campus Safety and the president were monitoring Hurricane Matthew. In the library Tuesday morning, a friend told me that classes may be cancelled Thursday and she had heard it from a trusted source. To be honest, I had no idea Hurricane Matthew was headed for Florida until she told me.

Later that afternoon, I was scrolling through Facebook avoiding the copious amounts of work I had to do and saw a post saying classes for Thursday and Friday were cancelled. At first, I was surprised because not only what my friend had told me came true, but in fact, Hurricane Matthew was projected to hit southern Florida's coastline and continue its way up to the Carolinas.

Imagine someone who boasts about being from Kansas, but has never experienced a tornado, and then is suddenly presented with the high possibility of an even stronger force of nature on its way to Orlando. Of course, I freaked out. College does not just cancel class for no reason (with the exception of Fox Day).

Anyways, I called my dad who was already en route to Florida, and planned to gather some friends to get gas, flash lights, water, and snacks. Well, my dad arrived late Wednesday night and we decided to leave the next afternoon. After debating staying in shelter in Orlando or making our way towards Tampa and hopefully Boca Grande, we packed up our car and headed west.

We made contingency plans, had go and no-go points, and were basically prepared for the worst case scenario. Here are 6 things that happened on our drive to Tampa as a first stop and eventual arrival in Boca Grande:

1. No Airconditioning

Earlier that morning, my dad had driven to two different gas stations of which both were closed, so to preserve gas, we did not use air conditioning. Until we reached our "go" point, we decided not to use it until we knew we were safe and in the clear. It honestly was not that bad because we opened the windows and sunroof to have some natural wind. Even when it started raining, we left the windows open a little to cool off.

2. Gas stations were out of gas

That being said, there were several places in Florida where gasoline was limited if not gone. When my dad told me he went to two gas stations that both were closed, I really thought about staying in shelter. But, I knew my dad was an eagle scout and always prepared. Using Google Maps, we thankfully avoided I-4 traffic until it was absolutely necessary to take it. On our way, things were looking bad and we almost decided to turn around, but we were so close! Finally, after passing three gas stations with plastic bags on the nozzles and as we got closer to Tampa, we found a gas station with gasoline.

3. Establishing "go" and "no-go" points

As I said earlier, we had these designated spots where we would decide to turn around or to keep going. Thankfully Google Maps helped us avoid I-4 traffic and we went on the turnpike. If traffic was bad there, then we would turn around. It was not bad, and even the tolls were suspended! Another point was a hotel about 100 miles into our journey where we had reservations as a back-up.

Quite a few times my dad considered turning around and me being terrified of the idea of sheltering from the hurricane, persuaded him that this traffic was "normal" and usual for interstate. We only were caught in traffic a few times, and as we made our way to Tampa, I could feel the tension in the car easing up.

4. Having lots of food

Being an eagle scout, my dad had bought a lot of non-cook food meaning we could eat it without cooking it. So, if we had to stay in Orlando, we were prepared and if we got stranded on the highway, we were prepared. We snacked on Frosted Flakes and Tortilla chips until we reached a "go" point and could seek out a rest stop.

As we neared Tampa, we saw a sign for Sonic and decided to take the exit. Well, the Sonic was 2 miles from the interstate, and Florida drivers being Florida drivers, we had to do a little off-road driving to get back on the highway.

5. Weather updates

The radio is a magical thing. While driving west, we wanted to keep ourselves aware of the storm's location in case we did need to turn around and take shelter. After hearing the firs reports of devastation in Haiti, I was so anxious and scared for my friends still at Rollins. Looking back, I know the government and weather channel reporters do emphasize the need to evacuate to everyone because the affect of the storm can be different for various areas. For example, I have heard and seen videos of Rollins and a few trees fell and plants were blown everywhere. In Jacksonville, there was a large storm surge and pieces of hotels and other building debris moving on the streets.

So, while the affect might not have been quite so drastic in Florida as it was in Haiti and the Bahamas, I am glad these weather reporters kept us updated about Hurricane Matthew and encouraged people to evacuate.

6. Arrival

Once we reached Tampa and got gas, we decided to make the last leg of the journey to Boca Grande. My brother and I convinced our dad that this was a pretty good "go" point and that we could turn the air conditioning on. After we got to our hotel, we were way to hyped up from the thought of being stranded or sitting out the storm and were so happy we made it.

Cover Image Credit: my photo

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It's Time To Thank Your First Roommate

Not the horror story kind of roommate, but the one that was truly awesome.

Nostalgic feelings have recently caused me to reflect back on my freshman year of college. No other year of my life has been filled with more ups and downs, and highs and lows, than freshman year. Throughout all of the madness, one factor remained constant: my roommate. It is time to thank her for everything. These are only a few of the many reasons to do so, and this goes for roommates everywhere.

You have been through all the college "firsts" together.

If you think about it, your roommate was there through all of your first college experiences. The first day of orientation, wishing you luck on the first days of classes, the first night out, etc. That is something that can never be changed. You will always look back and think, "I remember my first day of college with ____."

You were even each other's first real college friend.

You were even each other's first real college friend.

Months before move-in day, you were already planning out what freshman year would be like. Whether you previously knew each other, met on Facebook, or arranged to meet in person before making any decisions, you made your first real college friend during that process.

SEE ALSO: 18 Signs You're A Little Too Comfortable With Your Best Friends

The transition from high school to college is not easy, but somehow you made it out on the other side.

It is no secret that transitioning from high school to college is difficult. No matter how excited you were to get away from home, reality hit at some point. Although some people are better at adjusting than others, at the times when you were not, your roommate was there to listen. You helped each other out, and made it through together.

Late night talks were never more real.

Remember the first week when we stayed up talking until 2:00 a.m. every night? Late night talks will never be more real than they were freshman year. There was so much to plan for, figure out, and hope for. Your roommate talked, listened, laughed, and cried right there with you until one of you stopped responding because sleep took over.

You saw each other at your absolute lowest.

It was difficult being away from home. It hurt watching relationships end and losing touch with your hometown friends. It was stressful trying to get in the swing of college level classes. Despite all of the above, your roommate saw, listened, and strengthened you.

...but you also saw each other during your highest highs.

After seeing each other during the lows, seeing each other during the highs was such a great feeling. Getting involved on campus, making new friends, and succeeding in classes are only a few of the many ways you have watched each other grow.

There was so much time to bond before the stresses of college would later take over.

Freshman year was not "easy," but looking back on it, it was more manageable than you thought at the time. College only gets busier the more the years go on, which means less free time. Freshman year you went to lunch, dinner, the gym, class, events, and everything else possible together. You had the chance to be each other's go-to before it got tough.

No matter what, you always bounced back to being inseparable.

Phases of not talking or seeing each other because of business and stress would come and go. Even though you physically grew apart, you did not grow apart as friends. When one of you was in a funk, as soon as it was over, you bounced right back. You and your freshman roommate were inseparable.

The "remember that one time, freshman year..." stories never end.

Looking back on freshman year together is one of my favorite times. There are so many stories you have made, which at the time seemed so small, that bring the biggest laughs today. You will always have those stories to share together.

SEE ALSO: 15 Things You Say To Your Roommates Before Going Out

The unspoken rule that no matter how far apart you grow, you are always there for each other.

It is sad to look back and realize everything that has changed since your freshman year days. You started college with a clean slate, and all you really had was each other. Even though you went separate ways, there is an unspoken rule that you are still always there for each other.

Your old dorm room is now filled with two freshmen trying to make it through their first year. They will never know all the memories that you made in that room, and how it used to be your home. You can only hope that they will have the relationship you had together to reflect on in the years to come.

Cover Image Credit: Katie Ward

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Irish-American History Is Just As Important As Any Other Culture, You Can't Prove Me Wrong

I cherish being Irish and I will not let anyone let me feel bad for that.


Depending on when you're reading this, Saint Patrick's day has either just passed or is around the corner. For me, Saint Patrick's day is tomorrow. I've been debating this article for some time now because I didn't know how it would be perceived. At this point, though, I feel it's important for me to get out. No, Irish people were never kept as slaves in America, and I will never be one to try and say they were. However, Irish people were treated tremendously awful in America. A lot of people tend to forget, or just try to erase entirely, the history of the Irish in America. So much so that I felt shameful for wanting to celebrate my heritage. Therefore, I want to bring to light the history that everyone brushes under the rug.

In 1845, a potato famine broke out across Ireland. This was a big deal because the Irish lived off, mainly, potatoes. They were cheap, easy to grow, and had tons of nutrients. So when the famine struck, many people either died of starvation or fled to America in seek of refuge. When the Irish arrived in America they were seen as a threat to the decency of America. People viewed them as drunk beasts, sinful savages, barbaric, violent, belligerent, stupid, and white apes. When the Irish would go to look for jobs, many times they found signs that read "Irish Need Not Apply," even when the job was hiring. Therefore, the Irish did the jobs no one wanted, and even jobs African slaves wouldn't do. The biggest example of this is when Irishmen built canals and drained swamps. They were sent to do these things because of the enormous amount of mosquitoes; in the swamp, they would get bit and ultimately die of malaria.

Also, during this time, Irish people were poor and therefore lived in the same neighborhoods as the free African Americans. A lot of the Irish people were friendly with their neighbors of color and even got into interracial relationships. Because the Irish lived in these neighborhoods they were seen as dirty and even a lot of people at this time put African Americans higher on the totem pole than Irish. One person during the time even said, "At least the black families keep their homes clean."

The main reason American's outlook on Irish people changed was that most Irishmen took up fighting for the Union in the Civil War. I make this argument, not because I think the Irish suffered more than African slaves. I don't say this in means of trying to erase the struggles of the African slaves. I do not think that any of our ancestors should have been treated the way they were. I mean to say that the Irish did in fact suffer. Irish people were treated wrongly on the basis of...nothing. Simply because my ancestors hailed from the shores of Eire, they were treated with malice. And I write this simply because I want people to remember. I want people to understand what happened.

On Saint Patrick's Day this year, next year, and for the many years to come, I want people to embrace the Irish culture. I want the folks of Irish heritage to not be ashamed of where they come from; to not be ashamed to share their culture the way I have for many years. I want everyone to have a beer, wear some green, eat a potato or two, and dance the Irish step; to celebrate the history of Irish people with a bit more understanding than before.

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