HCPS announces no school in preparation for Hurricane Irma
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At around noon, Hillsborough County Public Schools announced that all public schools will be closed this Thursday and Friday in preparation for Hurricane Irma. All after-school and district activities for the rest of the week, including state testing, pep rallies, sporting events, and Homecoming, have been canceled.
Irma was named a category 5 hurricane as it made its way through the Atlantic Ocean, but is predicted to be a category 3 by the time it reaches the South Tampa area this weekend.
Many are questioning the timeliness of the school announcements. According to the Facebook post by Hillsborough County Public Schools, action is being taken before the hurricane hits the county in order to prepare schools as shelters for evacuees.
“To be able to make a decision today allows us preparation time to prep the shelters,” Principal Robert Bhoolai said. “…[It] allows…the students to get home…and make plans…without having to do it last minute.”
Because Robinson is in a flood zone, it is not utilized as a shelter. The county’s Facebook post advised locals to “take Thursday and Friday to take necessary precautions and plan for Irma.” Tampa citizens are taking the next couple of days to evacuate out of state.
“My family didn’t take it seriously at first,” Chaitra Peddireddy (’20) said. “But now they’re freaking out about it and we’re evacuating to Nashville, Tennessee and got water, food, and supplies.”
Because gas stations are backed up and plane tickets are expensive, some families are evacuating locally to simply get out of the flood zone.
“I’m in flood zone A,” Jules Whiteaker (’20) said. “So, tonight I’m going to have to pack all of my stuff up and then [my family and I] are going to have to evacuate to higher ground.”
RHStoday will have more information about the rescheduling of school acitivites, including Homecoming, when more information is available. For shelter locations and information on how to prepare, please visit Hillsborough County’s emergency website.