In Hurricane Irma’s wake, universities across South Florida are cleaning up debris and taking care of damage before students can return.
Most colleges in Miami-Dade and Broward counties will remain closed over the next few days as school officials and contracted workers remove fallen trees and shrubs and assess their buildings.
At Florida International University, school officials and contractors started examining damage Monday and continued to serve several hundred Monroe County residents who are temporarily residing at the school’s main campus after evacuating from the Florida Keys, said Ruben Almaguer, FIU’s assistant vice president over disaster operations.
Though about a third of the more than 500 evacuees have left, the rest will remain on campus until they can return home. FIU is also housing 137 special needs evacuees from Monroe County.
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“We may have them here for a while,” he said. “People’s lives are more important than anything else.”
FIU adminstrators surveyed about 20 of the 138 buildings on FIU’s Mitch Maidique campus in southwest Miami-Dade. Almaguer said almost every building has some water damage, though none flooded. Some trees uprooted. They expect to have those blocking roads cleaned up by Tuesday.
He said the university’s goal is to open as soon as possible, though that may not be until next week.
The university completed its initial assessment Tuesday, and researchers and lab technicians can return to labs on Wednesday. Faculty and staff can return Thursday, and Green Library has reopened from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Classes are still canceled, though the university expects them to resume Monday, according to a statement. Students and faculty can call 305-348-4357 for updates.
At Miami Dade College, school officials are waiting to inspect Building 3 at the Wolfson Campus until it’s determined safe to enter, said Juan Mendieta, MDC’s director of communications. A crane collapsed and struck part of the building, dislodging some bricks.
Building 3 houses classrooms and the student center; the school will know more about the damage Tuesday. Most of the buildings college administrators looked at across the eight campuses faced only water intrusion with uprooted trees around the grounds, he said.
At the University of Miami, between 250 and 300 employees and contractors are working to clean up minor damage at the Coral Gables, Rosenstiel and Miller campuses, said Jacqueline Menedez, UM’s vice president of communications.
While the university is still in assessment mode, she said, it lost a few trees that need to be cleaned up. The school evacuated the Coral Gables campus ahead of the storm, and the few remaining students waited it out at a local high school shelter. All of those students are safe.
All of the buildings are being inspected before students can return, Menendez said.
“We have a lot of work to do,” she said.
Status of Miami-Dade and Broward Colleges/Universities:
▪ Miami Dade College: Closed until further notice
▪ University of Miami: All campuses are closed until further notice. The earliest the university will reopen its campuses is Sept. 18.
▪ Florida International University: Closed until further notice, including online classes.
▪ Florida Atlantic University: All FAU campuses will be closed through Sept. 18. Jupiter and Boca Raton residential students can return to dorms at 9 a.m. Wednesday.
▪ Broward College: All campuses are closed until further notice.
▪ Nova Southeastern University: University officials are evaluating damage at the Fort Lauderdale/Davie campus. All campuses are closed until further notice.
▪ St. Thomas University: Will remain closed through Wednesday, though the school has not decided when to reopen campus. Students will be notified when the campus is reopened.
▪ Barry University: Classes canceled at all locations. The earliest classes will resume will be Sept. 18 at the Miami Shores campus, Orlando law school and all other Barry locations.
▪ Keiser University: Classes are expected to resume Wednesday at all Miami-Dade and Broward campuses