After listening to Hurricane Maria's 185 mph winds claw at his family's suburban San Juan home, second-year law student Julian Rendon isn't fazed by the weekend rowdiness that occasionally marks campus life at Florida State University.
He's just grateful to be anywhere with electricity and running water.
"I actually have my own apartment, a four-bedroom apartment, by myself," Rendon says. "It gets a little noisy on the weekends, you know, it's a frat house. But I do my best. If not, I can just go to the library."
Rendon and four of his University of Puerto Rico School of Law classmates were the guests of honor at a recent afternoon social thrown by FSU Law School Dean Erin O'Hara O'Connor.
O'Connor said she got the idea to take in Maria victims after other law school deans offered to do the same for FSU law students when Hurricane Irma threatened Tallahassee. Once the decision was announced, O'Connor said, donations and offers of help came pouring in.
"More than 100 alumni reached out and offered support," O'Connor told the crowd. "It's just been really, really impressive."
About 60 or 70 faculty, staff, and alumni joined O'Connor in the law school's rotunda on October 23 to sample Puerto Rican cuisine, sip coconut water and--at least in Rendon's case--talk about the weather.
Wearing a navy blue polo emblazoned with a Barcelona crest (his favorite soccer club), the affable 25-year-old smiled easily and joked about his newfound celebrity. His gaze narrowed only briefly when he described Maria's 4 a.m. pummeling of Cupey, his San Juan neighborhood.
Rendon was home with his parents and two siblings.
"We were trying to sleep, but obviously, it was really hard," he said. "It was like out of this world. You could hear the wind through the windows, and the palm trees cracking and just falling down."
Rendon says the house fared relatively well.
"Structurally, nothing really big happened, it got a little flooded, but a lot of palm trees fell on top of it. We were blocked in for like two days because a palm tree fell like right in front of our garage."
A month after the storm, recovery back home was moving slowly, and his house remained without power, Rendon says.
"I've been talking to my family frequently, and they told me it's still not there.... We just got water like probably two or three days ago. But most of the island still doesn't have electricity, a third of the island doesn't have water."
FSU is the only college in Florida that so far has...