What a crazy 10 days Hurricane Irma put us through. Floridians know that hurricanes are an unfortunate way of life for us in exchange for the amazing months of weather we have from November to May. But as this Washington Post article pointed out in July, the Tampa area has been largely spared from major damage from a hurricane for quite a long time. Perhaps for that reason, many people feared that this was going to be the big one.
Was your experience like mine?
Labor Day Weekend There is a hurricane they're talking about out in the Atlantic. They're saying it's big and strong. Eh, I'll worry about it later. Time to relax and party with friends. I will look more closely after the weekend is over.
Tuesday morning after Labor Day After a Disney trip and a morning at the Florida Aquarium over the weekend, I need gas so I head to Costco. I also plan to pick up a few random grocery items like Cheerios. I arrive to the lot to see that there are no grocery carts, and the gas line is backed up into the parking lot. Apparently people are concerned about this storm and need to buy all. the. things.
Tuesday afternoon Okay, maybe I should go ahead and grab some non-perishables. If we don't need them for this storm, my family will use them soon. I shop for crackers, bread, peanut butter, spaghetti sauce, and pasta. Water is already hard to come by so I plan to grab some as soon as I see it. Obviously they will restock.
Wednesday Irma is all over the news. I discover Denis Phillips and Mike the Weather Guy and start watching their coverage because national news makes it look like Florida is a lost cause and we're all done for. My friends who are not from Florida start to look pretty concerned, but I tell them that we can prepare, but it's still early. There is talk of plywood and generators. My dad, who lives on the Gulf in Palm Harbor, doesn't seem concerned yet, so I don't need to worry since we're not even in a flood zone.
Thursday School has been cancelled. We still have not found bottled water and I am starting to formulate a plan that includes a "safe room." I'm glued to the spaghetti models and concerned about my friends on the west coast of Florida. I hate that I know what a "cone of uncertainty" is. I-75 is a parking lot and gas is hard to find. I've never evacuated for a hurricane, and my new mantra is, "Run from water, hide from wind."
Friday morning We never found bottled water so we pulled items such as milk containers from our recycling bin, cleaned them, and decided to fill them with water for cooking if needed. My mother-in-law called me to ask what our plan was. "Still staying put, and we have an emergency plan. All is well. Don't worry about us! The news is making it look worse than it is! We live in a block house!" She's not impressed and I'm confident she questioned my sanity. ;)
Friday afternoon Panic has begun to set in with this Florida native. I watch every update from Denis Phillips, Paul Dellegatto, and Mike the Weather Guy. Then comes the 5 pm update. Irma's projected track puts her at a Cat 4 and aimed directly at Tampa. As in, the eye coming THROUGH Tampa Bay. She's not messing around, and now decisions must be made. My husband comes home from bowling with my two oldest boys, and we labor over the decision. We finally decide that we should pack up the boys, drive overnight, and take advantage of the situation to visit our family in Rochester, NY. We wanted to visit them this fall anyway, so we may as well get out of Irma's path.
Friday night The trip itself was fine - not too much traffic; we didn't have any gas trouble. But the emotional toll was great. I cried for our community, our friends, our family. We were leaving with no idea what we would come home to. We saw full rest stops of families who were leaving Florida, and it was just surreal.
Saturday and Sunday passed in a blur. We were weary travelers, safely away from the storm, but I felt like I left my heart behind with our city. I was grateful to know everyone back home had a plan, including my dad, who in fact did leave his home before the storm. I feel like I am in a unique position where in the past year, I have met so many Tampa business owners, mothers, professionals, citizens, and we were all connected in the uncertainty of this storm. Every shift of the track was felt by us all, and we hoped for a miracle.
Monday morning The Tampa Bay area was the grateful recipient of that miracle. After all of our worrying, many people's prayers, our preparations, everything we did in the week before the storm, we were spared from the wrath of a Category 4 storm.
There exists some guilt after this storm as well. As we watch our neighbors in our own state repair and deal with power outages, devastating flooding, downed trees, and more, we are still relieved that it wasn't worse. We see images of areas that were hit harder and imagine what could have been, what almost was, and we know that Irma spared us.
None of the images featured on this post are my own. Sources unknown.
Our spotlight charity for September is Grow Into You Foundation, a Tampa-based non-profit that supports teens who have been part of the foster care system. Erin NeSmith is the founder who has a strong desire to make a positive impact on at-risk youth through relationship building, coaching and mentoring to support them in reaching their full potential. She holds a Professional Coaching Certification as a Life Coach and her passion for helping these teens shines through as she speaks of her work with them.
Learn More About Their Work
The majority of teens that find themselves in foster care live in residential facilities rather than traditional homes because families are fearful of taking in a teen.
These same teens often age out of the foster care system at 18 years old with little to no support. The possibilities ahead of them don't look like college, starting a family and financial stability. Their possibilities look more often like homelessness, human trafficking, hunger, drugs, jail and returning to the same foster care system- this time as a parent.
Think of a teen you know...can you imagine he or she stepping into the world alone knowing that they don't have a soul to turn to? No family support system that cares about where they go or what they do?
These teens need guidance. They need support. They need someone to empower them to pursue education, employment and shelter. They need the perspective that allows them to seek out wise choices, create healthy plans for the future, learn life and leadership skills, implement coping strategies and experience what success can and does look like for them.
How Does Their Coaching and Mentorship Help the Teens?
It can be difficult to know what kind of difference you are making with teens. They may not open up or express themselves. Grow Into You Foundation has direct feedback from those they have worked with, and it truly shows how important their work in our community is!
How Can You Get Involved?
Grow Into You Foundation would love your help and support as they guide these teens into adult life. They are seeking volunteers, donations for their organization, and gift cards for their teens. Additionally, they are hosting a Halloween Masquerade Ball on Oct. 27th with the Fred Astaire Dance Studios. Plan to support them if you can!
Please plan to meet Erin at our Roux Girls Night Out on September 25 from 5:30 – 8:30 pm. She can answer all of your questions and is excited to share more about the foundation with you. If you are able to donate, she will be collecting gift cards for the teens. Gift cards can be for anything from Publix to fast food, to restaurants, etc. Erin uses them to celebrate “little wins” that the teens accomplish and to provide them with when they are struggling.
Get a break from our summer heat with Disney On Ice presents Frozen, coming to Tampa's Amalie Arena from Sept 29 – Oct 1, 2017! You’ll be magically whisked away into the wintry world of Arendelle, where you will be dazzled by amazing special effects and astonishing skating. Sing and dance along to inspiring songs, including “Let It Go.” Join royal sisters Anna and Elsa, the hilarious snowman Olaf, Kristoff, his loyal reindeer Sven and the mystical trolls as they journey to discover that true love is ultimately the most magical power of all!
Hosted by Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse, with special guest appearances by your most beloved Disney Princesses and characters from favorites like Disney•Pixar’s Toy Story, Finding Nemo and Disney’s The Lion King, this unforgettable celebration of love and friendship will leave your family with memories to last a lifetime.
Ticket prices start at $18!
Sep 29, 2017
Sep 30, 2017
11:00AM , 03:00PM , 07:00PM
Oct 01, 2017
11:00AM , 03:00PM
Purchase tickets by phone:
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To create a completely immersive experience for the audience, the set design will encompass the space from the ice surface up through the air, drawing everyone into the story and closer to the characters. Families will feel that they are trekking up to the North Mountains with Anna, Kristoff and Sven, and they will tangibly experience the storm inside Elsa. Elsa’s magic will be enhanced by state-of-the art special effects while her emotions will be conveyed through powerful skating.
Producers Nicole Feld and Kenneth Feld have selected the brightest and most creative minds in the industry to put together this spectacular show.
Hi! I'm Diana. I love the beach, my family, chocolate, coffee, and meeting new people. I host monthly events in the Tampa area and cannot wait to meet all of you!