Storm Buddies: An Inside View of Hurricane Irma in Real-Time

During The Storm – An Inside Look At Hurricane Irma
September 10, 2017
Michelle S. Loyd | Ms.LoydWrites

Welcome to Pasco County

My family and I recently relocated to one of Tampa, Florida’s suburbs in Pasco County.

Imagine my surprise while we’re still in the process of getting situated, finding a home and everything else that goes along with that process. We are advised that we are under mandatory evacuation, from a hotel room.

Due to one of the largest hurricanes in recent history.

Hurricane Irma.

I’m Used to Snow, Not Hurricanes

I was originally born and raised in the mid-west, so this is all very new to me. I decided that I wanted to live near the coast to have a better piece of mind, to deal with anxiety issues and to finally once and for all wash away the issues of my past in the waters of the Gulf of Mexico.

It has been quite a road to say the least.

Off to the Shelter We Go

On September 7th 2017 my little family and I left our hotel room due to being situated extremely close to the coastline near the Gulf of Mexico. We temporarily relocated to an emergency shelter, which also happened to be the high school that the boys had started attending, Fivay High School.

Kudos to Some Amazing People

I need to pause for a moment and say, that the Pasco County School District and the  Fivay High School Administration and Staff, are some of the most amazing people that my family has ever met.

They have taken care of us as “members of the Fivay family.”  Ms. Tabitha Barron the school social worker has been helping my family to get set up and acclimated to the area, even before the storm. Ms. Barron has gone above and beyond and I am truly thankful and impressed with her skills as a social worker and member of the Pasco and Fivay communities.

Needless to say that I was pretty scared and confused when I arrived at the shelter for the first time. My boys 14 and 17 as usual had no worries. They jumped right in and began volunteering and assisting other Pasco County residents with getting checked into the shelter as well.

Somehow we all managed to make it in to the Tampa Bay News when school district news reporter Jeffrey Solochek interviewed us while we sitting on the floor of the high school cafeteria.

Fivay High School, Tampa Bay Times, Hurricane Irma, Ms.LoydWrites, Khay Loyd, Jeffrey Solocheck
Jeffrey Solocheck, Tampa Bay Times: Khay Loyd: My 14 -Year Old

I was in for another surprise when I went to check the status of the hurricane and I saw a news article featuring my boys helping out the residents posted on Twitter.

Tampa Bay News, Daelin Loyd, Khay Loyd, Pasco County, Hurricane Irma
Source: Tampa Bay News, September 7, 2017 – Daelin and Khay Loyd

Read the story here.

There are Still Some Good People Out Here

Irma brought out the very best of many of the temporary residents of the shelter.
At every turn, I’ve seen people doing amazing things and going to extremes to take care of each other as complete strangers while we are all afraid and worrying about weathering the storm.

I got to spend some quality time with one of the sweetest elderly women that I’ve ever met. Her name is Irma Jean, but I call her Ms. Jean.

She had a warm grandmotherly presence about her that made me feel at ease, and want to continually stay by her side while she told me stories of her son disassembling her sewing machine around the age of three and how he turned hot wheels into chariots.

Somehow, I thought I was helping her, and she ended up putting my own mind at ease instead.

The US Army Takes Action

There was also Heather Posey a female US Army Soldier that I’m pretty sure never stopped moving or helping anyone from the time that we arrived at the shelter until today. From checking in residents to attending to the elderly and more, if there was a job that needed to be done, you can be assured that Heather Posey was not very far away.

Heather Posey you are Awesome! Thank you for your service.

Some of the later arrivals to the shelter were my favorite little family duo of Kelly and Zoi. These two were so bright and bubbly, just barely making it in as one of the last few to arrive before the shelter had reached capacity.

These two became my storm buddies and almost made me forget that I was actually awaiting the arrival of one of the largest hurricanes in Florida history. The love between mother and daughter is so apparent, their smiles and laughter, contagious.

I hope to be able to experience the same with my daughter Brielle one day. She’s only 3 years old now. I can’t wait!

Everyday Heroes

As we sit and await the storm that is now about 300 miles or less away to the south, I came out of my assigned area out to get breakfast in the cafeteria and ran into Lonnie Pinze from up north.

Lonnie and his wife Cindy were some of the first people that we met when we came in to the shelter and we spent our first night sleeping on the cafeteria floor next to him, his wife and their two neighbors Moe and Joe.

This was a very good -natured group that reminded me of a group of spirited teenagers with silvery grey hair. The two gentlemen stayed awake throughout the night and appeared to be keeping everyone in the cafeteria safe without them even being aware of it.

I was awake a good bit of the night too and I watched these guys as they quietly kept an eye on everyone with no sleep at all. I finally felt comfortable enough to rest with them sitting up next to me and my family.

Thanks Guys!

From time to time as I would go from one shelter event to another, such as breakfast, lunch or for a smoke break, or a breather from the crowd, I would run into Lonnie in the hallways.

He was still very quietly helping to guide our fellow sheltered along the way and looking every bit the part of the quiet hero. If you weren’t paying close attention you would actually have missed it.

This is definitely another quiet hero. All of these people are. Those who take their time to help and be in service of others, not for the reward, but just because it’s the right thing to do. Kudos to you all. We need more people like you!

It’s funny how this storm has put things into perspective for me. The people that appear to be heroes and wearing the uniform aren’t always what they appear to be. While everyday citizens have put their best faces forward to battle out this storm together.

An unconventional community of people who most likely would have never been brought together otherwise.

Fivay High School took in at least 2000 Pasco County Residents for shelter during this storm and made it look almost easy.

Hat’s off to you guys!!

Hurricane Irma, Volunteer, Pasco County, Fivay High School
My Best Buddy: Fiance Jacobi Butler

Storm Buddies.

I’m preparing to ride out the storm with my buddies.

My Storm app is telling me it’s less than 300 miles away now.

I’ll provide an update after the storm.

To anyone else out there riding out the storm with us, Be Safe!!

Ms. Loyd