College senior from Saratoga County escapes Florence's path

September 12, 2018 04:45 PM

Evacuations are well underway along the coast -- and it's not just property owners and vacationers who are hitting the road.

Colleges and universities in the strike zone have shut down and told students to get out just two weeks after starting the semester.

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Dan O'Connor is a senior at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia. He left home in Rexford on August 26 to drive to school, never expecting that just two weeks later he would be returning home to escape a hurricane.

"There's no point messing with this thing, just go home. So I packed up the car and left about 7 a.m. [Tuesday]. Got back to the area about 4 o'clock," he explained.

The university announced Monday the campus was shutting down for a week. O'Connor says he's fortunate to have hit the road when he did.

"I can only imagine what it's going to be like today. I have some friends that are leaving today and they're just telling me it's awful. The roads are totally backed up. Some people are in convoys trying to get out," he described.

During his previous three years in Virginia, O'Connor had seen a snowstorm or two, a couple tropical depressions - he slept through one, but nothing like Florence.

Plan "A" had been for him to stay with an uncle who lives about 20 minutes from campus and not in an evacuation zone. His mom, Pamela O'Connor, is glad he went with Plan "B."

"We have a saying in our family, which is ‘Don't do anything stupid.' It's pretty much our mantra. Just be smart, be safe and just keep your head about you. Listen to what the officials are telling you," she explained.

O'Connor says he's glad to be home and safe.

"At the same time, I was just starting to get into my senior year, so it's kind of a big speed bump," he pointed out.

O'Connor says the current plan is for students to head back to campus on Sunday and resume classes next week, but it all depends on Florence.

It's easy for you to help people affected by Florence. NewsChannel 13 is teaming up with the Red Cross to help with their disaster relief fund. You can make a donation at the cash register at any Price Chopper or Market 32 through the end of the month.


Jerry Gretzinger

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