Schools turn into shelters during Hurricane Irma

school in Florida

Hurricane Irma caused more than 1,700 evacuees to seek shelter at the Boca Raton High School in the Palm Beach County school district, about 50 miles north of Miami. According to Education Week, Susie King, the principal, had been at the school since last Friday.

“With 32 volunteers working in the shelter—many of them school employees working around the clock to feed evacuees, keep the shelter clean, and provide other supports—King had pivoted to deploying her skills as a decision-maker, problem-solver, and comforter, which she usually devotes to the school’s 3,500 students and their teachers.

Similar scenes had been playing out in other Palm Beach County schools—where during the storm’s peak 17,000 evacuees sought refuge, according to Superintendent Robert Avossa—and across the state’s emergency shelters for multiple days as Hurricane Irma churned toward Florida and millions of people sought a safe place to go. The size and predicted ferocity of the hurricane prompted the evacuation of more than 6 million people, tens of thousands of whom either had no means to leave the state or waited too long to find other options for escaping the storm’s direct path.”

About 500 of the 600 shelters that opened across Florida were located in K-12 schools. Schools are often used as shelters because there are a lot of them and they’re pretty solid structures. Additionally, school personnel naturally show up and help run the shelters. Find out more about it at Education Week.