After Huricane Ian, Florida college students left homeless by floods

A typical Friday for University of Central Florida students living at the Arden Villas apartments means preparing for a weekend of college football viewing, beer pong and, maybe, flipping open a book or two.

Hurricane Ian required a change of plans. Students living at the complex near the UCF campus on Friday carried out water-logged clothes in garbage bags, used a pontoon and an air mattress to rescue friends and moved furniture out of flooded apartments. Cars were submerged in brown water in the apartment complex’s parking lot, which resembled a lake.

Andee Holbert, her sister and their dog evacuated Thursday before the water reached their heads. They returned to retrieve wet clothes in garbage bags and whatever else they could salvage, loading a pickup truck belonging to their father who had driven up from South Florida.

"We still had power, which is terrifying, and the lights were still on, and there’s knee-deep water in our apartment," said Holbert, a nursing student. "We just wanted to grab some of our stuff and save it before they tell us we can’t come back for a while."

Floodwaters started rising in the apartment complex Thursday after the deadly storm tore through central Florida, leaving behind historic flooding in Orlando which saw 14 inches (35.5cm) of rainfall in some spots. Around 200 residents evacuated the apartment complex, and some students with surfboards helped rescue pets.

Deandra Smith, also a nursing student, was asleep in her third floor apartment when others evacuated. She stayed through the storm with her dog.

On Friday, other students who live in the complex helped get her to dry land by pushing her through the flooded parking lot on a pontoon so she could get some dog food.

Smith wasn’t sure if she should go to her parents’ home in South Florida or find a shelter so she can still attend classes in Orlando.

"I’m still trying to figure it out," Smith said.