Hurricane Irma and ASTC Members


Updated Saturday, September 23

Fewer than two weeks after Hurricane Harvey hurtled into Houston and the surrounding region, Hurricane Irma is pounding the Caribbean and marching up Florida. ASTC is in touch with some member institutions in the region, though many are now without power, phone lines, or mobile phones. Most institutions prepared for the storm’s onslaught by closing early, and many expect to reopen next week.

It is not clear what needs will exist afterward, but ASTC will share opportunities for you or your organization to help.

Please write to Gillian Thomas if you have any additional news or ideas for assistance.

Here are our latest updates:


Bermuda Underwater Exploration Institute
(Twitter: @BueiBermuda; Facebook: BUEIbermuda)
The island was not in the path of Irma, and BUEI continued operations as usual, including sold-out presentations by best-selling author Stedman Graham on Friday and Saturday, September 8 and 9.


National Science Centre (NIHERST)
(Twitter: @niherst; Facebook: NIHERST)
The country was not in Irma’s way, and things continued normally at NIHERST, including participating in the Ministry of Education’s Career Fair at Point Fortin Anglican Primary School, where staff shared some of their interactive exhibits on robotics, renewable energy, brain development, fingerprinting, and microscopy.


Centro Criollo Ciencias y Tecnología del Caribe (C3TEC)
(Facebook: CentroCriolloDeCienciaYTecnologiaDelCaribec3tec)
Closed on Friday, September 8. The center’s third anniversary celebration, scheduled for the weekend, was cancelled. Now reopened, following some cleanup and minor repairs to the facility’s green roof.

EcoExploratorio, Inc.
(Facebook: ecoexploratorio)
“We survived Irma!” writes Ada Monzon, the organization’s president. “The center of the storm passed 30–60 miles from our island. I’m a meteorologist, and this has ben probably the most challenging event in my lifetime since Irma was 185 mph by the time it brushed Puerto Rico. We had a lot of damage due to vegetation and we still have no electricity in many sectors. Schools have not started completely because of the issues with electricity and water. There are around 100–150 houses with no roofs. Now the most challenging part is helping our neighboring islands such as St. Thomas, St. Martin, and Tortola, which had catastrophic damages. In terms of the museum operations, we just reopened on Saturday with an Open House to educate about the science of hurricanes, and we had full house. We are also collaborating with the First Lady of Puerto Rico as a collection center (of food only) for the shelters, and all our museum activities are related to atmosphere and oceans. We are doing well and ready to help others. We stopped guided tours, and we are receiving the general public with activities since most kids are not in school. Less than a month ago we had a huge activity with the solar eclipse, and I think that extraordinary turnout helped us in our outreach to the community which we are returning now with more social work. The hurricane season is not over, and we still need more education.” EcoExploratorio’s website has extensive information about the science underlying nature’s threats, including hurricanes.


At day’s end on Sunday, September 10, shelters were open in 64 of Florida’s 67 counties, 573 in all, giving temporary homes to 155,000 people. By Monday morning, September 11, more than 5.7 million electricity customers were without power, about 58 percent of the state’s population, according to officials.

South Florida Museum, Parker Manatee Aquarium, and Bishop Planetarium
(Twitter: @SouthFLMuseum; Facebook: SouthFLMuseum)
Closed for Saturday and Sunday, and programs cancelled. A memorial had been planned for the hurricane weekend, honoring Snooty, a manatee who’d lived at the museum’s aquarium since 1949. The event is rescheduled for Sunday, September 24. Reopened with full power and air conditioning on Wednesday, September 13, and implemented “Cabin Fever Relief” promotion through Friday, September 15, featuring half-priced museum admission for residents who need to get out of the house and beat the heat.

Astronaut Memorial Planetarium & Observatory
(Facebook: EFSCplanetarium)
Exhibit galleries, observatory hours, star shows, movies, and laser shows were cancelled beginning Friday, September 8, and will remain closed through Sunday, September 17, for ongoing cleanup, safety inspections and restoration of utilities.

Museum of Arts and Sciences
(Twitter: @moasdaytona; Facebook: moasdaytona)
The campus was closed on Thursday, September 7, in preparation for Hurricane Irma. There was a lot of debris from the storm throughout the campus, but once staff got the grounds cleaned up, the museum reopened on Saturday, September 16. The museum’s Natural History Festival, scheduled for Saturday, September 16, was cancelled.

The Gillespie Museum
(Facebook: GillespieMuseum)
Closed on Friday, September 8, and was closed while power remained out on the campus of Stetson University, but is now re-opened.

Fort Lauderdale—
Museum of Discovery and Science
(Twitter: @IMAXSOFL; Facebook: MuseumOfDiscoveryAndScience)
Closed at 5:00 p.m. on Thursday, September 7. “We only had minor damage, but without power reopening remains unknown!” writes Kim Cavendish, the museum’s president and CEO. Power restored, MODS reopened on Thursday, September 14, with exhibit admission price reduced to $5 through Sunday, September 17, so visitors can enjoy two floors of interactive exhibits in the comfort of an air conditioned building. The Kids, Love and Family Expo originally scheduled for Saturday, September 16, will be rescheduled.

Fort Myers—
IMAG History & Science Center
(Facebook: IMAGHistoryScienceCenter)
Following preparation to ensure that all the animals and archives were well protected, the institution closed on Friday, September 8. It reopened on Friday, September 15, with free admission for children through Sunday, September 17, with a canned food donation. Free admission is also being provided to families of first responders and power company employees through Sunday.

Fort Pierce—
Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute, Ocean Discovery Center
(Twitter: @FloridaAtlantic; Facebook: FloridaAtlantic)
Closed through Tuesday, September 12. Normal operations resumed Thursday, September 14.

Fort Walton Beach—
Emerald Coast Science Center
(Twitter: @ECSciencecenter; Facebook: emcoastscictr)
Open for business as usual through Saturday, September 9. Normally closed on Sundays. Was already scheduled to be closed September 11–19 for the deinstallation of MathAlive!; reopened on September 20.

Florida Museum of Natural History
(Twitter: @FloridaMuseum; Facebook: FloridaMuseum)
Following days of preparation for Hurricane Irma—including catching the winged inhabitants of the Butterfly Rainforest, the museum closed on Saturday, September 9, and reopened on Wednesday, September 13.

Museum of Science & History of Jacksonville, Inc./strong>
(Twitter: @moshjax; Facebook: moshjax)
Closed on Friday, September 9. “The museum and collections are safe; we maintained power and will resume operations on Wednesday and be open to the public,” writes Maria Hane, MOSH’s president. “Schools are still closed, so I hope we will serve as a place for our residents to come and enjoy a moment out of the chaos. The city and downtown suffered devastating flooding, and many of us are without power. Most of our staff will be in , although a few are still dealing with loss and other issues. The two art museums and zoo are still closed; the zoo and Cummer Art & Gardens had severe flooding but the Museum of Contemporary Art is reinstalling tomorrow and is good. Our museum and science tech community have been so supportive – we are truly grateful!”

Juno Beach—
Loggerhead Marinelife Center
(Facebook: loggerheadmarinelifecenter)
After evacuating baby sea turtles to the Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta and making other pre-hurricane preparations, the center closed on Thursday, September 7. As of Monday, September 11, the campus was without power, but all staff and sea turtles are safe. Reopened Thursday, September 14, with 200 new sea turtle hatchlings received after Hurricane Irma.

Kennedy Space Center—
Kennedy Space Center
(Twitter: @ExploreSpaceKSC; Facebook: KennedySpaceCenterVisitorComplex/)
Artifacts are safe and secure, though the hurricane caused some minor cosmetic damage to the complex, reports Therrin Protze, the chief operating officer. The facility is without power and water, but hopes to have water back on Wednesday and to reopen on Thursday or Friday. Some staff experienced more extensive damage to their homes. Reopened  Friday, September 15, without bus tours will run today, but with free parking and bottled water. Bus tours resumed on Monday, September 18.

Aerospace Discovery at Florida Air Museum
(Twitter: @SunnFunFlyIn; Facebook: SunNFunFlyIn)
After securing the facility and artifacts as best as possible, closed Friday, September 8. Took a direct hit from from the hurricane, but no aircraft were damaged and the museum is sound. Volunteers are helping with cleanup. Power is back, but the facility, closed on Mondays, will reopen on Tuesday, September 19. Campus is a staging point for the 82nd Airborne as they fly out to assist in relief efforts in South Florida and the Caribbean. The museum is also a drop-off point for donations to be delivered by AERObridge official relief flights, collecting nonperishable food items, water, personal hygiene products, gas, and pet food for those affected by the hurricane in Florida and the Caribbean.

Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science
(Twitter: @FrostScience; Facebook: FrostScience)
Suspended operations until further notice on Thursday, September 7, in order to ensure the safety of visitors, staff, and animals. The Falcon Batchelor Bird of Prey Center and Batchelor Wildlife Center in Coconut Grove are also closed and will not be accepting injured birds and raptors. Holders of advance-sold tickets can contact the museum after the storm about rescheduling visits. As of Monday, September 11, all of exhibitions and animals are safe and intact. The Museum Park campus sustained some minor damage to the landscaping and security gate. Reopened on Friday, September 15, and is collecting relief items for those who have been impacted by the storm, now through Sunday, October 1.

Discovery Center
(Facebook: discoverycenterocala)
Closed on Saturday, September 9, to prepare for Hurricane Irma. Resumed normal operating hours on Tuesday, September 12.

Electrosonic, Inc.
(Twitter: @ElectrosonicAV; Facebook: electrosonic.av)
“All good with us!” says Toni Losier, account manager. “Lots of tree damage and debris. Lost power for about 12 hours, but it’s back. Still no internet/cable, and cell service is intermittent.”

Orlando Science Center
(Twitter: @orlandoscience; Facebook: orlandosciencecenter)
Closed on Saturday, September 9, through Monday, September 11. “The science center is structurally sound following the storm,” wrote Jeff Stanford, vice president of marketing, on Tuesday, September 12. “Since schools remain closed in Orange and Seminole counties, we are offering day camp today for a fee for students in grades K–6. Students are participating in structured activities, visit exhibits, and see films under guided supervision. We will be offering camp as long as schools remain closed.”

Panama City—
Science and Discovery Center of Northwest Florida
(Twitter: @scidiscoveryctr; Facebook: ScienceDiscoveryCenterNWFL)
Open normal hours; usually closed on Sundays and Mondays. Cancelled some Animal Encounters programs due to precautionary measures ensuring reptiles’ safety should Hurricane Irma head northwest.

Pensacola MESS Hall
(Twitter: @PcolaMESSHall; Facebook: PensacolaMESSHall)
Open normal hours. Was already scheduled to be closed Sunday, September 10, through Wednesday, September 13, for exhibit changes. “So far, our area is the land that storms forgot,” says Megan Pratt, executive director. “We watched Harvey pummel the west of us, Irma the east, and we were left with the best weather imaginable for this time of year.”

Punta Gorda—
Charlotte County Historical Center
(Facebook: CharlotteCountyHistoricalCenter)
Closed for the storm, but reoponed shortly thereafter.

Saint Petersburg—
Great Explorations Children’s Museum
(Twitter: @Gr8Explorers; Facebook: GreatExKids)
The museum and the Early Explorations Preschool closed Thursday, September 7. St. Petersburg is incredibly lucky,” Angeline Howell, chief executive officer said on Wednesday morning, September 13, when the museum reopened. “We have had no damage, just much debris and down trees throughout our city, and the museum did not lose any power. We were here yesterday to assess any damage and I am happy to report we will be opening to the public today. Our hearts go out to the other parts of Florida who did face a terrible devastation from this storm. Great Explorations is here to offer assistance to those who need us so please let them know they can reach out to us, and we would be happy to assist the best way we are able.” Is offering half-off admission through Sunday, September 17.

Hands On! Studio
“Everyone with Hands On! Studio is safe and sound,” writes Kathy Gustafson-Hilton. We have all been without power since Sunday and are busy removing our storm shutters and such, cleaning up our yards, and putting things back where they belong. We are grateful that our homes, friends, and families were unharmed. We feel very lucky that the storm took an easterly jog and weakened before it got this far north. We feel especially lucky seeing the devastation down in the islands and all around Florida. Those people are in our thoughts. Thanks to the many people around the world who have checked in on us—those messages certainly raised our spirits during the storm’s most stressful times!”

Challenger Learning Center of Tallahassee
(Twitter: @challengertlh; Facebook: challengertlh)
Closed Sunday, September 10, through Tuesday, September 12. “We lost power during the storm but are back up and running,” said Samantha Reaves, sales and resource development manager, on Wednesday morning. “We are very fortunate that our facility did not sustain major damage and that our staff made it through the storm safely.”

Glazer Children’s Museum
(Twitter: @GlazerMuseum; Facebook: GlazerChildrensMuseum)
Closed Friday, September 8, through Monday, September 11. Reopened on Tuesday, September 12. Is offering $7 admission for the rest of September.

Museum of Science & Industry (MOSI)
(Twitter: @mositampa; Facebook: mositampa)
The host of the 2016 ASTC Annual Conference has closed for remodeling and will reopen on Saturday, November 18. “It was definitely a stressful and scary time,” says Kenyetta White-Johnson, director of administration, “but we are happy to report that we are all safe! We have heard from a few employees who had some minor damage to their property; some of us lost power and are waiting for it to be restored. All in all, we are blessed and thankful that we are all safe and accounted for.”

West Palm Beach—
South Florida Science Center and Aquarium
(Twitter: @SFScienceCenter; Facebook: sfsciencecenter)
Closed Thursday, September 7. Staff continued to work on hurricane preparations, securing marine animals, testing generators, and more. As of Monday, September 11, seems to have fared well during the storm; aquarium friends are all safe. Reopened on Wednesday, September 13, though phone lines and email remained down. Is offering Hurricane Break Camp while Palm Beach County schools are closed for the rest of the week.

Image: (U.S.) National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration