Schools along the coast were left in turmoil after Hurricane Ian tore through

Hurricane aftermath in North Port, Florida

Emily Wisnesky

2.5 million students in Florida were forced out of class when their schools closed in preparation for the hurricane. Many other states along the Atlantic coast felt the impact of Hurricane Ian. Preston Martz, a former graduate of PAHS, attends Coastal Carolina University in Myrtle Beach. His college encouraged evacuation as the storm headed straight towards them. 

“The beach dunes were wiped out and ocean water went into the town,” Martz comments in regard to local damage. “Boats washed up on shore, piers were taken out to sea.” Despite the forecast of a category 1 hurricane, Martz reports that some students remained on school grounds.

“All of campus was shut down, minus the dorm buildings which—on generator power—had no A/C, and limited dining hall hours. I would say 75% of [the] campus left, very few stayed.” Martz says that tree branches had fallen across the campus, but otherwise his college saw little to no damage. Plenty of school districts in southern Florida weren’t as fortunate.

Fort Myers Beach Elementary School, which sits just a block from the ocean, experienced the worst of Hurricane Ian. The building was completely ravaged and remained closed for nearly 3 weeks. According to WREX, “The storm surge rose to the top of the school doors, destroying nearly everything inside.” 

The hurricane hit Fort Myers as a category 4 storm, with wind speeds exceeding 150 mph. An article by the Washington Post details that “…near Fort Myers Beach, the water was so forceful it collapsed buildings, tumbled concrete walls, and pushed sailboats and dumpsters hundreds of feet.” 

School authorities across Florida are worried about how these constant interruptions are affecting childrens’ education. Studies show that disruptions negatively impact grades and standardized test scores. Florida’s governor, Ron Desantis, says, “Ensuring children can return to school is an important step in recovery and gives children consistency and normalcy.”