Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Students at UT and USF St. Pete move in as bay area braces for possible hurricane, RNC

On both sides of the bay, cars squeezed along cramped curbs filled with duffel bags and cork boards, plastic drawers and Target bags. College students and their parents braced for crowded elevators and goodbyes.

The scene Saturday at the University of Tampa and the University of South Florida St. Petersburg looked no different from move-in weekends across the country.

Except for that tropical storm a few days away, gaining intensity and moving closer.

And that flood of people arriving this weekend, some to attend the Republican National Convention and some to wreak havoc around it.

For the families of the 2,200 students returning to UT this weekend, it was nearly impossible to find a hotel room across the river in downtown Tampa.

New Hampshire mom Debbie Mutz snagged a coveted room at the downtown Hyatt when she booked last September. But she had to check out Friday. "I couldn't get a room Saturday night if my life depended on it."

And she was lucky.

The closest room Massachusetts mom Julia Ghorbi could find was in Oldsmar.

At least one family opted for a Disney stay.

Martha Ash and her husband managed to find a room miles away on Waters Avenue. But they shared another concern with out-of-town families: getting home. With soon-to-be Hurricane Isaac on its way, the Ashes paid $150 in ticket fees for earlier flights.

Cheryl and Paul Abbott recognized they may have to resort to a plan other than their Monday flight: the long drive home to Pennsylvania.

At USF St. Petersburg, where nearly 650 students were moving into their dorm rooms, most families had the luxury of living a car ride away. As part of their check-in, students had to provide the school with a personal evacuation plan. With many coming from either South or Central Florida, the students told school officials their own evacuation plan was, simply, to return home.

Burke Neely of Vero Beach said her 18-year-old daughter, Jordan, is a veteran of hurricanes.

"I'm more concerned about the crazy people who will be here for the RNC," she said.

At USFSP, 200 of the students, mostly freshmen, were moving into the new University Student Center, a pristine $21 million dorm that opened its doors on Saturday. USF officials have warned incoming students that visitors here for the convention may ask to stay in their dorms. And UT officials have told students to wear identification cards and a green lanyard to distinguish them from outsiders.

Parents have taken notice of other security precautions. Mom Jodi Gould was taken aback by the sight of armed, khaki-clad police gearing up for action in Tampa. "It was freaky," she said. "Something you don't see every day in Nashua, New Hampshire."

Jack Whitaker, 19, said his dad has already told him what to do during the convention:

"Stay away."

Alexandra Zayas can be reached at azayas@tampabay.com or (813) 226-3354. Cox can be reached at jcox@tampabay.com or (727) 893-8472.

Students at UT and USF St. Pete move in as bay area braces for possible hurricane, RNC 08/25/12 [Last modified: Saturday, August 25, 2012 9:59pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Coming to Netflix in July: 'Rogue One,' 'E.T.,' 'Castlevania' and more

    Blogs

    Just when I think Netflix has outdone itself with new releases and originals, it surprises me with another month of superb offerings coming to the streaming site.

    Felicity Jones in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
  2. Jones: Serena Williams, and all women, deserved better from John McEnroe

    Tennis

    John McEnroe might be the best sports analyst in broadcasting.

    Serena Williams makes a backhand return to her sister Venus during the women's singles final at the Australian Open tennis championships in January in  Melbourne, Australia. [AP photo]
  3. Watch: Provocateur targets CNN producer with hidden camera video

    National

    NEW YORK —A conservative provocateur posted a video Tuesday of a man identified as a CNN producer commenting on his network's coverage of President Donald Trump and connections to Russia.

    Anthony Scaramucci, a senior adviser to President-elect Donald Trump, talks to reporters in the lobby of Trump Tower in New York. [Associated Press]
  4. Protesters demand Confederate statue be moved from old Hillsborough courthouse

    News

    TAMPA – Politicians, clergy and community leaders demanded Tuesday that the Hillsborough County commission reverse course and remove a Confederate monument from the old county courthouse.

    (From left) Mike Reed, Kristen Perry and Dayna Lazarus hold protest signs Tuesday in front of a Confederate monument on the grounds of Hillsborough County's old courthouse. Protesters want the statue removed. ALESSANDRA DA PRA   Times]
  5. Man charged with threatening Florida lawmaker on Facebook

    Blogs

    From The Associated Press:

    MIAMI — A Florida man has been charged with threatening to kill a state legislator in a Facebook post. 

    This booking photo released by the Miami-Dade Police Department shows Steve St. Felix, who has been charged with threatening to kill Republican state Rep. Jose Felix Diaz in a Facebook post.