FILE - This Jan. 21, 2017 file photo shows damage to the front of The William Carey University's School of Business after a…
FILE - The William Carey University's School of Business shows damage after a tornado touched down in Hattiesburg, MS, in January 2017. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

Frightening scenes of residents speeding away from wildfires as their neighborhoods collapse in flames show how quickly a natural disaster can leave someone homeless.

What if  you are an international student? Where do you go?

"We can use our facilities to shelter in place' until the disaster is mitigated, and we have procedures in place to acquire emergency food, water and shelter," Sheri Ledbetter, communications officer at the University of California-Irvine, said in an email to VOA.

"We also have plans to evacuate the campus and establish reunification centers to reunite students with family, or to provide aid to students to get them home in the event of prolonged campus closure," she wrote.

FILE - In this Oct. 31, 2019, file photo, smoke from a wildfire known as the Maria Fire billows above Santa Paula, Calif.

Last year, schools in California, North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida and Texas were impacted by natural disasters: hurricanes, wildfires,  floods and earthquakes.

The University of South Florida's hurricane evacuation procedures in the vulnerable Tampa Bay region tells students to be ready for tornadoes, hazardous materials, floods and post-storm debris.

"Take your most important belongings, valuables and personal documents with you," the school recommends, including course materials.

Students should be more vigilant during hurricane season, which runs June through November. USF recommends students, faculty and staff choose evacuation routes: One that leads to a safe space within the country, and the other at a location outside of the storm's path.

USF suggested students take a list of items to shelters with them, including such basics as cash, an air mattress or blanket, but also more specific, such as any medications, passports and other paperwork.

Also, students can download a phone application — USF Safe — that provides quick access to emergency services on campus.

The University of California-Davis has emergency plans in place to help students prepare for earthquakes.

FILE - Hospital workers set up equipment outside the Ridgecrest Regional Hospital after a powerful earthquake struck Southern California in the city of Ridgecrest, California, July 4, 2019.

According to the University of California Guidelines on General Earthquake Safety, the first step for earthquake preparedness is to "identify the risk by determining if you live in an earthquake hazard area."

The guidelines on earthquake safety recommend maintaining a battery powered radio, flashlight, fresh batteries, blankets and first-aid kits.

Ledbetter said the University of California-Irvine distributes information about emergency preparedness on several platforms, including its website, the University Learning Center (UCLC) and in campus emails, as well as at incoming student orientation and tables at campus events.  

"In the case where we have a natural disaster, we go to great lengths with our emergency planning procedures in coordination with local emergency responders," she said. "Campus preparedness messaging is an ongoing and continuous activity at UCI."

Biola University in earthquake prone La Mirada, California, participated in the "Great California Shake Out" in October 2019.

The event included an earthquake simulator that created a 7.1-magnitude earthquake.

"During an emergency, we can be highly flexible to accommodate the needs of our students, including international students. Ideally, students would remain in their respective housing units, supported for their basic needs [food, water, power, etc.]," Ledbetter wrote in an email.

"If housing units were damaged or otherwise unavailable, we have the capability to either establish shelters at predesignated locations on campus, or to work with the Red Cross to establish shelters for the student population off campus," she said.

In 2018, the University of California-Davis paused classes for two weeks over the Thanksgiving period because of wildfires, according to the California Aggie, a local/student/university newspaper.

"Students with family in the affected areas have said they felt the stress of the situation significantly," wrote the Daily Aztec, an independent school newspaper in San Diego, in November 2018, about students from San Diego State University.

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