Community, Hurricane, News

One year later: How UM is recovering from Irma

Hurricane Irma, the first Category 4 storm to impact Florida in more than a decade, made landfall in Miami one year ago on Sept 10. In the months since, the University of Miami has striven to recover from the physical and financial burdens of the storm and implement policy changes for the upcoming hurricane season.

Though close to 2,000 tons of debris were left in Irma’s wake, the campus was fully cleared by the time students returned to campus three weeks later.

“We lost a lot of vegetative debris—everybody saw a lot of pictures of that last year,” said Director of Emergency Management Matthew Shpiner. “But Facilities and Operations has done a ton of work to bring the campus back to where it was before. It’s nice that when you walk around campus, you would have to explain to somebody that a hurricane happened.”

Not so easily rebounded from, Shpiner said, is the financial strain left on the university. The storm cost the state of Florida $19.4 billion and left the university thousands of dollars behind as well, though an exact number has not been released yet.

UM is currently seeking reimbursement through the Federal Emergency Management Agency, though the process could be slow, Shpiner said.

“It’s historically something that takes years to work through because there’s a lot of layers of government that come with that,” he said.

On top of money lost to repairs and maintenance in the aftermath, the university faces costs incurred from delays in the forthcoming Student Housing Village project, which was recently pushed back a full year. Construction crews were forced to halt work on the site while the city evacuated, and had to redo foundation work torn up in the hurricane-force winds.

The Emergency Management team typically starts planning for hurricane season in March, Shpiner said, but it’s been “nonstop work” since Irma this year.

“We conducted a comprehensive after-action process that’s something that comes with any type of large-scale emergency, and we look for both big and small opportunities to make those policy changes,” he said.

The biggest change for this season: an increased evacuation window before a storm hits. The university will now issue evacuation orders 72 hours ahead of the predicted landfall, 12 hours more than the university’s previous policy and one full day ahead of Miami-Dade County.

“We’re trying to do everything that we can to give people the most amount of reasonable time to take action to take themselves safe,” Shpiner said, “but it’s a fine line balance between having the right information to make the right decisions at the right time.”

 

September 10, 2018

Reporters

Emily Dulohery

Emily Dulohery can be reached via email at emily@themiamihurricane.com or on Twitter at @edulohery.


Around the Web
  • Miami Herald
  • UM News
  • HurricaneSports

The University of Miami spring game will not be televised or streamed live on the Internet at noon S ...

A six-pack of Hurricanes notes on a Thursday: ▪ Who were UM’s standouts this spring, heading into Sa ...

As the Miami Hurricanes have spent the spring trying to find answers to question after question on o ...

Navaughn Donaldson knew one thing mattered above all when he was forced to start playing center ahea ...

This spring hasn’t been easy for Miami redshirt sophomore Tate Martell, the former Ohio State quarte ...

There are numerous ways to connect with the University of Miami during the two-day tech conference o ...

A symbol of both French heritage and Catholicism, Paris’ 850-year-old gothic cathedral was gutted by ...

The Division of Student Affairs hosted a reception to present campus-wide awards and scholarships to ...

The University of Miami celebrates Earth Day with a host of activities at or near the Lakeside Patio ...

The nation’s oldest and most-widely known academic honor society inducted 45 students from the Colle ...

Miami Athletics has become one of the leaders nationally in developing its sports psychology departm ...

No. 42 Adria Soriano Barrera collects top-25 victory against No. 21 Alexis Galarneau ...

Check out the UM Department of Athletics' e-magazine for April. ...

The Canes made a late charge, but fell short at No. 8 Louisville 7-5 ...

The fifth-seeded Miami women's tennis team advanced to play fourth-seeded NC State Friday at 3 ...

TMH Twitter
About TMH

The Miami Hurricane is the student newspaper of the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Fla. The newspaper is edited and produced by undergraduate students at UM and is published weekly in print on Tuesdays during the regular academic year.