Hurricane Harvey stormed into Texas late Friday night, causing trouble and concern for UT students in affected cities and those moving into residence halls and apartments in Austin.
The University began responding to the severe weather and issuing safety communications Thursday. Mooov-In weekend, when most students move into dormitories, was modified by the Division of Housing and Food Service, as students were directed to check in to their residence halls instead of at the UFCU Disch-Falk Field.
International relations freshman Avery Little said her plans were thrown off by the announcement of Harvey. Little left her downtown Houston home abruptly on Thursday night with her family and dogs to evacuate and move in on time.
“The original plan was to drive down to Austin at noon on Friday,” Little said. “The weather started getting pretty bad, and that’s when Harvey went from being a tropical storm to all-of-a-sudden a Category 3. So we ended up deciding that we were going to leave in the middle of the night in case of an evacuation.”
Little moved into Duren Residence Hall on Friday night. Little’s family will not be able to go back to their flooded home until next week because of highway closures in Houston.
Ryan Kohanski, a business freshman from Sugarland, initially underestimated the severe wind and rainfall Harvey would bring to southeastern coastal cities, but eventually decided to move in early to avoid the stormy weather. Kohanski said his family’s home is safe, but he feels bad for neighboring cities impacted by more flooding.
“I do see a lot of the pictures on social media and it’s kind of heartbreaking to see what a lot of people around that area are going through, what they’re losing and the fact that they might not be able to go back to their normal lives once the storm passes,” Kohanski said.
Aaron Voyles, director of residence hall operations, said despite weather concerns, Mooov-In was relatively successful and about 90 percent of students have checked into residence halls. Voyles will accommodate students unable to move in because of the weather and is currently working to address concerns about leaks in residence halls.
“We have had some cases of leaks or different things coming from all the wind and rain,” Voyles said. “We’ve had facility staff on-site so as those reports come in, our staff have gone out to those rooms and made the repairs to get that stuff fixed. But for the most part, we’re seeing Mooov-In go pretty standard I would say.”
Students like international relations and global studies sophomore Carson Tharp, who moved back to Austin two weeks ago, watched Harvey hit their hometowns from afar through social media and local news outlets. Tharp’s home in Victoria still stands, but the roof was damaged and the fence was blown down. Tharp said the city is also experiencing power outages and water contamination.
“It’s kind of sad, but there’s nothing I can do,” Tharp said. “If I were down there, I’d just be in harm’s way, risking being caught in a flood or something. When it all clears up, I will definitely go down there to see how the house is and see if any of our friends or family need help.”