Florida

Life Updates

September 11, 2017

Kitty Evacuating

I wanted to give an update on my life right now. Thank you to each of you who have messaged me and asked how we are doing. We are all ok: husband, 3 pets, myself and my in-laws. All of us packed up our cars and pets and drove north away from the predicted paths of the hurricane. I skipped my NY plans and stayed in Florida so I could be with my family as there was too much uncertainty about the hurricane and I could not leave them behind with so much unknown.

We evacuated Tampa Bay on Thursday afternoon after the news reported that Hurricane Irma would be a Category 4 Hurricane headed directly towards St. Petersburg – the area where we are currently living. Earlier that week we had been actively tracking the news and alerts by county. We took note of the evacuation notices by zone so we prepared.Β  My husband and I live on the west side of Tampa Bay in Pinellas County and since we were in a no flood zone we almost decided to stay. Our neighbors had checked in on us multiple times over the week and told us we could stay with them at their warehouse which was concrete and in a no-flood zone. They even gave us the code to their house for us to go inside in the event we had any trouble if we decided to stay.

My in-laws however lived in a mandatory evacuation zone on the other side of the bay so Andrew and I drove to their house and spent two days helping them prepare the house. We boarded the doors and windows. The previous owners of the house were so organized – they had all the boards already prepped, labeled and stored in the garage. They even had an evacuation folder they left for my husband’s parents with detailed diagrams labeled boards.

Tampa Hurricane Storm Boarding

Tampa Hurricane Storm Boarding

Here is a look at where my in-laws live in one of the canal areas as of Thursday. A lot of the neighborhoods around Tampa Bay look similar to this if they are on the coast or waterfront. This entire area is in Evacuation Zone A. At this time we don’t know what it currently looks like. A couple notes as some of you asked why it was a challenging decision to evacuate and also reasons why so many people stayed behind. Florida has set Evacuation Zones by county. You can see how it’s split on their website. Up until Thursday, unless you were in a mandatory Evacuation Zone (such as this one below) in your county you had little or no direction as to whether an evacuation would be necessary. Zones are primarily set to prepare for hurricane storm surge flooding – it doesn’t take into account possible damage from wind. There are a lot of areas in Florida that are not designated Zone A. Andrew and I were based in Zone D – but it didn’t mean our area could survive hurricane winds.

Tampa Bay Canal area

We left Tampa around 4:30 PM on Thursday worried about a number of things including the possibility that the news was over-reacting and that we would be evacuating for no reason, the fact that almost all the gas stations in town were out of gas, the possibility of we might get stuck on the road since news reporters were reporting gridlock traffic with people abandoning their cars on the highways and also worried if we left we might get stuck on the road with high winds. We looked for alternate routes out of the state and downloaded gas station locator apps. While my husband was researching exit routes I packed up two suitcases with essentials, prepped our 3 pets and loaded everything I could into our car. Our in-laws followed too. We all left with our pets packed with us and anything we could fit into our vehicles.

We drove along the 41 north and found there was no traffic and no gridlock like the news had reported. Most people evacuating must have been driving along the 75 instead. Gas was still something we were worried about. We must have passed at least 40 gas stations all of which were closed and out of gas, all with their pumps wrapped with clear plastic wrap. We found 2 that had gas, both of which had at least a quarter mile long wait line of cars and both were completely surrounded with police cars to ensure everything stayed orderly. Luckily we found open gas stations closer to the Florida Georgia border and we had plenty of gas to get us there. Andrew’s brother was texting from San Francisco helping us with directions to ensure we didn’t hit traffic and also gave us addresses of places to check for gas along the way.

Our kitty and Jake below, our other dog Lucy is hiding behind my car seat.

Kitty and Jake

We drove to Georgia, stayed the night in Columbus and the entire hotel was filled with Florida evacuees. The next day we drove further north through Tennessee (where I had the best BBQ of my life in Nashville) and ended up in Kentucky to stay with Andrew’s sister’s family. At rest stops it was completely heartbreaking – I heard women on their phones in the bathroom stalls crying saying they were worried that they wouldn’t have a home to go back to.Β  This morning as I’m typing this I’ve been trying to find news about Tampa Bay updates while sitting in an airport in Louisville waiting to get on a plane for conference in Santa Barbara.

Driving through Georgia:

Georgia Sunrise

At this point we have so many mixed feelings about the entire situation. We felt extreme sadness and guilt leaving Tampa behind worried about everyone who stayed. By now we’ve found the hurricane was downgraded to a tropical storm. We are relieved that most of Florida seems to be ok right now however at the same time both Andrew and I are completely frustrated and angry at the media and news outlets for not providing accurate information, for fixating on small portions of information and blowing them out of proportion. I believe they caused unnecessary mass panic about so many things which led to things such as drinking water shortages at grocery stores, gas shortages everywhere and even traffic jams. At the same time I understand it’s better to be safe than sorry and also know the threat was indeed to be taken seriously. Finding accurate and reliable information all week long has been a challenge. Certain areas were for sure more prone to damage from storms, flooding and winds. I am still glad we evacuated and relieved that impact of everything isn’t as catastrophic as the news had predicted. It’s been an extremely emotional week and even now there is still a lot of uncertainty about what will happen in the upcoming week. My heart goes out to each and every person in Florida.

Thanks to each of you who have messaged me with your concern. I’m touched by all of your comments and kind messages. I’ll be in California most of this week and at the moment am unsure of when I’ll be able to return to Tampa. My husband and pets are safe and sound though and I’ll keep you posted. Beauty posts I had prepared earlier to resume as soon as I can!

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  • Luka

    Better safe than sorry

  • lawler

    The most astonishing thing about this is that you have a cat who will sleep in the car! Jake is a qt. Glad you are hanging in there. Safe travels <3

  • So glad you are ok but this is so shocking to see all the pictures of devastation x

    franklyflawless.com

  • NJ

    I understand your frustration – however you were wise to leave. Hurricane Sandy was significantly weakened by the time it made landfall in New York in 2012. The winds were still dangerous but the storm surge was devastating.

    • Gail

      Yes…clearly spoken as someone who has never lived through a hurricane or its aftermath.

  • Bebe armitage

    This sounds very trump-supporter ish. While I understand — my whole family is in Florida — the news media has no control over the weather. They can only report the facts to you as they know them. With weather being fluid and all, of course those facts will change along the way. So your frustration at the media seems unfounded and ignorant. Anyhow, best of luck.

    • Collar Wilson

      Leave Sabrina alone! She’s entitled to her views about this situation just as you are, but this forum is not the place for political finger pointing. She is currently living with these events as they are occurring. Aside from finding strange opportunities to espouse your own political leanings, what are you doing?

      • Bebe armitage

        Uh, I didn’t attack Sabrina. Also, I’m not sure what exactly I should be “doing” other than financially and emotionally supporting my family who actually were affected by the hurricane. But thanks?

        • Alix

          In all fairness, “ignorant” isn’t a compliment. You could’ve made your point — a valid one — without the snark and political overtones.

      • Bebe armitage

        Also, to be clear in my original statement ; denouncing the media as mass hysterics is dangerous. Clearly, Sabrina is entitled to her opionion and to post her opinions on her blog as she sees fit. However, I would hope that she considers the ramifications of this particular post very carefully. As per her post she is well aware of the power of media, a public blog is considered media and the last thing she or anyone would want is some impressionable mind to ignore danger warnings when the next hurricane hits. We are still in the middle of hurricane season.

        • suefreieh

          With all due respect to Sabrina, nobody is going to read her beauty blog for advice on how to handle a natural disaster. She’s venting her feelings, get a grip. Everyone has to plan and learn for themselves. Enough with the ad hominem attacks.

    • Lisa Peterson

      I am simply without words

      • Bebe armitage

        A cursory scroll through your username reveals you’re an actual Trump supporter, so I understand your lack of comprehension. I guess it’s a “libtard” thing, as you so affectionately and compassionately refer to in your posts.

  • nic

    As an almost Savannah, GA lifer, I can say to always wait for the last European spaghetti model. Because I just had this media fear mongering talk. I also have a friend from Alaska and scared to death and evacuated, so really depends on the person.

    • suefreieh

      I totally agree, the European satellite and weather models are right on target. This is never reported on weather channels et. al.

      • Gail

        I’m not sure what channels you watch but CNN and The Weather Channel discuss the Euro models all the time. They (and I) agree they are usually more accurate!

  • I’m so so glad to hear both you and your family are safe and sound, and that you made it out of Tampa safely. My parents have been watching the news constantly too (in Toronto) and it’s unbelievable how much the networks have blown this whole thing out of proportion. See, this is precisely why I avoid watching TV – because the media excels at spreading mass panic for no good reason at all. Bastards. They should all be ashamed of themselves.

    • Gail

      Perhaps you should talk to some folks in Jacksonville who are dealing with flooding or in the Keys whose homes are significantly damaged. Nothing was blown out of proportion. Florida did better than anticipated to the detriment of Cuba.

      • Eileen

        As the images and live reports come in of the destruction and devastation that Irma inflicted in the Caribbean, the Keys, and in sections of mainland Florida, it is abundantly clear that the media was not blowing this out of proportion and that millions of people are being impacted by the hurricane’s aftermath. As for the massive evacuations orders, those were issued as a matter of safety: Get people out of harms way–better safe than sorry–and those media “bastards” as they were so disdainfully called, went to heroic efforts to get public safety information and weather updates out to the populace as quickly as they became available. As for the ridiculous statement that the media was fostering “mass panic for no good reason”, there was no mass panic. Given the unprecedented number of people who were trying to relocate within the space of a couple days, of course there were people (particularly those who had procrastinated) who found themselves facing frustration and anxiety. But, mass panic? Nah! Perhaps rather than senselessly bashing the media or score political points, it would be better to channel our energies into helping with relief efforts, reconstruction, and a close examination of climate change.

  • I’ve been following your updates on Instagram and my heart goes out to you, your pets, family and in-laws. I can’t imagine how it must have felt to leave your home behind. I’m happy to hear you’re okay. Keep us posted please! Lots of hugs.

    xx Laura / Laurantaina Beauty Blog

  • Casey

    So very glad you, your human, and pet family are safe.

  • Alix

    Glad you and your family are safe, Sabrina. I’m sure it’s frustrating to feel as though you may not have needed to evacuate, but discomfort/inconvenience is ALWAYS better than the alternative of not evacuating when needed!

    Mad props to the previous owners of your in-laws’ home, who so thoughtfully had the boards labeled and ready to go in just such an emergency.

    • Thanks Alix – I think everyone has a choice to evacuate when things feel dangerous, we did! The entire time we did not know if we were making the right choice.

      I agree about the previous owners of my in-law’s home. Words can’t express how it makes me feel to know there are good people like that in this world.

    • lawler

      Yeah. I was pretty impressed with that too. If I ever moved to a hurricane-prone zone, I’d love to buy a home from a type-a personality. They saved a lot of time and frustration.

  • Collar Wilson

    I prayed for your safety and everyone else who was impacted by this storm. I live in Louisiana, so these types of situations and precautions are commonplace. I know that it’s frustrating to have news reports that seem to be overly cautious, but better safe than sorry. I’m praying that the situation for everyone is recoverable. I’m glad that you and your family are ok.

    • Thank you Collar, I agree with everything you said. The weather is indeed very unpredictable – we had sooooo much information to try and sort through. Different reports on an hourly basis made it difficult to make an informed decision.

  • Lisa Peterson

    Very glad to hear you, your family and pets are all ok!!! My friend in Tampa just informed me the surge is about to come… so hopefully the news stays positive.

  • degreesofshining

    Beauty stuffs can certainly wait! Very very happy to hear you, hubs and fuzzy babies are all safe and sound. Please be well! Sending angels! >*<

  • M Jones

    I’m sure you’re exhausted and frustrated. You’ve been through a very stressful situation. However, I disagree with directing anger toward the media. There’s no reason to believe that the media purposely disseminated inaccurate information or created mass panic. All they could work with is the publicly available information at each point; severe weather events are known to be unpredictable until the last minute. Media outlets are not clairvoyant. So glad that you and your family are well.

    • Mimsy

      She didn’t say they purposely disseminated inaccurate misinformation. She also didn’t say they deliberately created mass panic. She said she wished they had reported things differently, and her sentiments echo many of her fellow Floridians.

    • Luka

      Every time I see or read a news report about the Keys or the nursing home where people lost their lives I think about this post and how out of touch and privileged it is. She lost me as a reader.

  • Swingtime

    I’m so glad you’re safe but so sorry you’ve had to go through this, especially so soon after moving. And I understand your frustration–I’m sure I’d feel the same way. The news has been saturated with nothing but sensational, alarmist headlines about weather for weeks, and I don’t live near Texas or Florida. But I think you were wise to leave rather than take a chance on staying. I hope you can get your life back to normal as soon as possible. Take good care of yourself and your family.

    • Thank you so much for these kind words.

      • Swingtime

        Of course, Sabrina. You’ve been through a real nightmare. Take good care of yourself till you’re ready to post again.

  • Anna

    Glad you played it safe; you never know what’ll happen, and as you say, it’s always best to be careful. Sending you best wishes and support!

  • Suzanna

    I have been thinking of you and am glad to hear you all are well. I, too, evacuated Florida on Thursday, for the most part traveling the 301 through to Columbia, SC and them northwards to Mt. Airy, NC where I am now, staying in a budget hotel with my dogs and wondering about the return traffic into Florida.

    This situation was somewhat lightened by a trip down to Winston Salem to the mall there. Lo and and behold, a really great Sephora! Bought YSL new concealer. I can play with that now that rain has stopped my wilderness adventures hiking the mountains here.

    I agree with you about the storm hype. It caused a mess in GNV.

    • Hi Suzanna – hope the trip back home goes well for you! Score on the Sephora store find! xoxo

  • suefreieh

    Hi Sabrina, this post resonates with me because I evacuated too from SW Fl ( north Naples) to Georgia as well and the news reports were all over the place. The hyperbole– get out or you’re going to die– I won’t forget. Even on Sunday morning they were saying it was a category 4 possibly slamming into Tampa when the NOAA report ( a dry government website) showed it was weakened to cat. 3 after it passed by the keys and the Cuban trajectory. They really did know what it was going to do but the ratings monster has to be fed. And once the news channels and media gin everyone up, they can’t take it back. I see no reason to ever evacuate Florida again. Lesson learned. Will get a monster generator, Miami- Dade code aluminum shutters, plenty of canned or vacuum sealed water and provisions and hunker down. I’m going to renovate and put up impact windows and doors where I can. I’m currently stranded in Georgia and can’t wait to get home. A neighbor who stayed said we have no power, lots of ripped up branches and debris from trees, and no structural damage to my home built after 2002. They just cannot humanly expect to evacuate millions from the third most populous state and not have major humanitarian crises, gasoline depletion, issues and highway wrecks.

    • This literally just made me cry. You just summed up everything we went through – I’m so sorry to hear you are stranded in Georgia. I hope your neighborhood and home are ok and that you can get home soon. Thank you for writing this – you don’t know how much it means. xoxo

      • suefreieh

        Aww sweetie take care of yourself. Were all in this together and we have been made stronger by this. The Monday morning quarterbacking going on, they’re not understanding what they told us to do under severe stress, the weak and sick, cats, dogs, children and elderly people on oxygen…what happened to us and how you can’t extrapolate the destructiveness of the cat 5 hurricane on Anguilla vs a cat 3 on American cinder block infrastructure and homes. The deaths on American soil so far were on the roads in accidents from the evacuation itself, a poor man died of natural causes in a shelter! This has just been hell for everyone! I hope you and yours get back to normal quickly– we are Florida strong! Pray that FPL gets our power back! On a side note, Georgia is lovely and the people so kind, I’m in a suburb of Atlanta called Newnan.

    • nic

      I was outraged Friday that people were running out of gas on the interstates. My brother is a firefighter and we brought as many things to people on the roads that we could

  • Stephy

    Hi Sabrina, I’m so glad to hear you and the rest of the family are safe. I can understand your frustration with the news media, but this was a very dangerous and record breaking hurricane. It has caused devastation in the smaller islands and could have easily caused the same devastation in Florida. It is a blessing that it weakened when it did and didn’t cause more heart break. My husband lived through Katrina, you don’t want to underestimate any sort of hurricane.
    Best wishes that all is well when you return home!

  • Allie

    Sabrina,
    I am truly SO glad you and your family are safe. Many are not, and many have lost everything they could not bring them. Very thankfully, far fewer are affected in that way than initially predicted. If the media and government had not been so strident, the casualties would certainly have been worse. While you are not a member of the news media, you owe it to your colleagues to not discredit their reporting. Your opinion is highly respected and with that comes responsibility.

    I know you are tired, frustrated, and likely angry after being scared, but you must remember that science does not work in absolutes. Here are a couple articles detailing why hurricanes are so tough to predict.

    https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.bloomberg.com/amp/news/articles/2017-09-06/irma-s-path-may-be-foretold-by-old-fashioned-weather-balloons

    http://www.popsci.com/science/article/2013-08/why-predicting-hurricanes-still-imprecise-science

    I hope you and your families come home to no issues! All the best!

    • Swingtime

      Every day, I think I’ve read the most ridiculous thing ever on the Internet. Yet there’s always tomorrow. A member of the media? A blogger, unaffiliated with any organization, is a member of the media? Really? Does posting a comment or posting on Facebook make one a member of “THE MEDIA”? Come on. Sabrina posted her own experiences and vented a little. Do you really think that’s going to affect world opinion (or anyone’s opinion) of the real media, or the actions they would take in a similar situation? This woman moved across country (have you ever done that?), recently got settled, and then had to evacuate her home (have you ever had to do that?). She prepared and complied, but expressed some frustration after such a stressful experience. She thought she could freely express her thoughts and blow off some steam here, on her own blog, the writing in which is always her unaffiliated opinion. Obviously, she was wrong. There are people who cannot pass up an opportunity to inflict their opinion on others in lecture format from a keyboard. Hey, I guess that makes you a member of the media, too! Try being understanding and compassionate. It’ll come back to you.

      • Allie

        I have a feeling that this will be an agree to disagree situation based upon the fervor of your reply. That said, I would hope we can agree a personal Facebook post or comment on an article is a wee bit different than a publicly promoted business website with a large following that receives ‘press’ samples and sponsorships. And make no mistake that while Sabrina is awesome and her opinions on beauty products valuable, her website is here to sell just as much as it is here for her showcase her love of traveling and makeup. That is not at all to blame her! I think she’s smart and many of us would do the same if given her skills and opportunities. And for what it’s worth, the legal field tends to categorize blogs as media.

        If she had chosen to discredit a particular agency or story, I could understand more, but making a blanket statement disregarding the expertise of others is a bit wreckless. Journalism ethics apply to bloggers also.

        And in case it was not clear from my previous post, I will repeat that I am sincerely happy that she and hers are safe! And that most of Florida is as well, and I will be offering thoughts, prayers, and donations to those who were not so lucky. I have friends and family caught up in this as well.

        The fact that things ended up so much better for Florida does not negate that the media and government agencies were working with the best information they had at any given time. I have a feeling that if they had not acted in that manner and the storm was as bad as predicted, people would be complaining they didn’t do enough. It almost was that terrible:

        https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/capital-weather-gang/wp/2017/09/11/why-hurricane-irma-wasnt-far-worse-and-how-close-it-came-to-catastrophe/?utm_term=.5c12392b23fe

        I hope you have a lovely evening! And if you are affected by these storms, I hope you stay safe!

        • Swingtime

          “Reckless.”

    • Mimsy

      Why would being a member of the media mean she should tow some invisible line of tacit approval? Free speech is a thing, not only so that we can criticize our government, but so that we can criticize the way things are being done by the establishment. By your reasoning, no one should ever be a whistle blower, either, like the women who called out the men on Fox who were sexually harassing them.

      People should tell things as they see them. Especially the media.

  • GraceMonaco

    I am so glad you and all loved ones are safe. The lack of property damage is the bonus. I was in a very similar situation. I moved to Florida a little over a year ago. We lived through Floyd and Sandy in NJ, but those hurricanes did not impact us except for a loss of power and some trees. We never felt our lives were in danger since we did not live in an area with storm surges. I flew out of Tampa early in the week as I had a business trip to NY planned anyway. I took my daughter with me, but my husband stayed behind to see if he could wait it out and also to make sure our elderly neighbor with his 2 dogs would be prepared. In any event, they shuttered up both houses (we have hurricane shutters and are not in a flood zone) and left for North Carolina. A few of our friends, however, did not leave but when the storm track shifted to our side of Florida (we leave between Sarasota and Fort Myers), they panicked and called to see if they could use our house. They’ve lived there for years and never bothered to get shutters or boards cut to their windows. Of course we said yes, but I cannot understand the nonchalance and being so unprepared. And now we have to listen to the smugness of “I knew it would not be so bad, etc.” I’m trying to hold my temper, but at some point I am going to strongly suggest that perhaps investing in hurricane prevention would be a good idea.

    My husband and I shut off all the national coverage because it focused on personal stories and newscasters getting blown around. Instead we found a local channel that live streamed on the web and they were excellent. They did not sugar coat the danger, but they were more measured in dealing with the data which enabled us to assess the risk to us and make a decision that made sense for our exact zone and location. We were not in a flood zone, but still decided to leave.

    • Thanks Grace, glad you and your husband are safe. As one who has actually experienced it and went through what we went through in Florida, you truly understand. I agree being prepared is essential – as new Floridians my in-laws were lucky. My in-laws neighbors had lived in Florida for 25 years and said they never saw the need to have shutters. They also said there have been numerous hurricane warnings that never amounted to anything. The week the hurricane started getting closer to Florida they called a company to have storm shutters and boards cut and installed and were quoted $40,000. The price gouging that comes with natural disasters like this is really disturbing. By that point all Home Depot and Lowes were running low on supplies so they could not do it themselves. They decided to leave their house as is, drive to safer ground and wish for the best as their house was insured.

      Thanks for sharing your experience. I hope you can return home soon safely.

      • Stephy

        My parents and all the rest of my family live in Tampa right now and also went through the hurricane. They chose to stay and they saw the hysteria that occurred. I agree the news media, especially those like CNN, really ramped up the drama. But it was NOT a hurricane that should have been taken lightly. Barbuda was nearly whiped out. That same hurricane was on its way to Florida. Hurricanes are unpredictable and change at the last moment. Katrina did. My brother in law had to be rescued form a roof top in New Orleans after we lost contact with him for almost a week. I have known people who died because they chose to not take it seriously.

      • Karen Schremmer

        Hi- glad you’re safe!

        Hurricane prep is very stressful. Having had to evacuate many times, (one year more than once) it gets easier. For instance, keep extra stocks of pet food, protein bars, nuts, water, etc… starting in June. Then you eliminate the grocery store madness. D is a very safe area, and in my memory hasn’t ever been called to evacuate.

        Price gouging is illegal in FL. It is taken very seriously here. Report by using http://myfloridalegal.com/pages.nsf/Main/5D2710E379EAD6BC85256F03006AA2C5?OpenDocument .

        http://tracker.gasbuddy.com is very helpful and also has an app. There was no gas anywhere in west St Pete where we live. Using this, we found it right on Treasure Island over the bridge!
        Coming back from so far can be problematic with gas supply as well. Extra demand and tankers can’t come into area to replenish until storm passes.

        I agree the dramatic media make it worse. I like (just for weather) Bay news 9. They have a lot of side stories, but are more practical. They also have streaming and a severe weather alert app.

        Anything else, let me know-

  • emmmilyyy

    I’m just glad you’re okay. You’re incredibly brave, I don’t think it was an easy call to make, but it is always better to be safe than sorry <3 Sending warm wishes and thoughts to you and all the other families affected by this.

  • SoSuSam

    Thanks for the update. I’m glad to know you’re okay! What in introduction to life in FL, huh. πŸ˜‰ I followed the storm closely because I have many friends and family in FL and was very concerned about their well being. Happily, they all made it through okay–though in some cases (Miami) their property was less fortunate.

    On a separate note, I am amazed that your cat just hung out happily in the car (or pretty happily, anyway) while you drove all over the place. I can barely get my cats into their carrying cases! A couple of years ago I considered moving to Miami but didn’t solely because I couldn’t imagine what would happen when it came time to evacuate for a hurricane and I couldn’t get the cats into their boxes. Maybe your kitty could give mine lessons…

  • Els Wijnants

    Stay safe! Xx

  • Pat Harrison

    Last time I checked this is Sabrina’s blog and she is entitled to her own perspectives. Why can’t we all just get along and respect each others opinions? Please people there are more important things to discuss.

  • oldernotwiser?

    Glad you’re safe. I thought about you.

  • DRTVrMoi

    We departed Hobe Sound about four hours before you. What normally takes 1.5 days of driving took 3 days on our sojourn to NJ. Staying off of 95 slowed our progress but there was gas to be had with patience. Until we got north of GA, we had trouble finding a hotel. It was the first time I took my pet in the back way; no hotels were accepting pets.

    I’m glad you evacuated. We stayed for Matthew (a catagory 3) and the power outages was daunting. When we saw that Irma was a cat 5, it was easy to make the evacuation decision. Be thankful that you are all safe and fingers crossed that there is little property damage.

  • So glad you and yours are ok. Hubbys sister and family also live in Pinellas County and my BIL is in the coast guard. They had no plans to evacuate until he got word very early in the morning (they hear earlier than the public as a coast guard perk….won’t get into the politics on that) that Irma was going to head West. To know my BIL is to know he’s consistently the one who underreacts to things and yet he woke up SIL told her to round the kids and get on the road asap. While I get that the media can seem sensationalized, they don’t have crystal balls and only get the information given to them which they then try and get out to the public and quickly and clearly as posssible. In a time where people still very much remember the devestation that Katrina, Sandy and recently Harvey (which my BIL just spent 10 days flying helicopter rescues for people who didn’t/couldn’t evacuate) caused, it’s only fitting that media, first responders, and government authorities don’t want chances being taken. Yes it is frustrating to have to leave home, and damn right it is scary to be caught up in the hysteria – totally justified feelings there. Thank goodness it wasn’t worse case scenario!

  • all that jae

    You guys have such great hearts. I’m so glad to hear that you all are safe.

  • TheCafeMakeup .

    I’m thinking of you and your family. I’m glad you and the little pets are safe!!! It must be annoying to be away from home when you haven’t planned to be! I hope the conference goes well!

  • I’m very happy to hear that you and your family are doing okay.

  • Lisa Adams

    I hope you find your home in good shape. I Live in “New” Tampa, so I stayed put, no damage. I’m from New Orleans so I take all of this in stride. It takes a lot to get me to evacuate. Katrina, made me evacuate for example. (Good call, right)? I lived in Houston for Ike and evacuated, another good decision. Most times you stay put. This was my first one in FL. I think we chose wisely, selecting Tampa out of all the cities in FL. It just doesn’t get beat up like the others! Stay safe!

  • Elizabeth Detrich

    First time commenter ( I’ve read your blog for a few years), I am so glad you and your family are ok! I was so scared watching the news with all the film of wind and flooding.I

    Ps- cute Rag Doll, we have a rescue kitty named Rocky, who is a rag doll.

  • Trudi

    Sabrina, your OK, the HUB is OK, the in-laws are OK, and so are your fur babies. That is all that matters right now. Having lived through the San Diego Wild Fires twice leaving our home staying in La Jolla, CA on the beach was the best part for 1-1/2 weeks. It was expensive though. Our home was not touched by the fires which started right across the street from our home. I cried for hours after watching million dollar homes with whole families standing on a curb with only the clothes on their back, because they waited too long. Earthquakes were not fun either in CA. Now that we moved to North Carolina, we are prepared at all times for hurricanes after those 2 record Wild Fires. Moving from coast to coast was not easy, but glad we did it as the folks in NC are very friendly as opposed to San Diego and we’re very happy here. The HUB belongs to the Emergency Mgt. team here and we get updates a little early too. Always be ready to bolt, pack everything in giant plastic buckets that fit in your car & shelf in the garage for quick packing in your car. Always be safe than sorry. Homes can be replaced, just takes a whole lot of time and inconvenience, I watched many neighbors who came home to nothing but smoke. But LIFE, is what counts. Nothing more. Stay safe and be well. This too shall pass.

  • Maria

    I’m really glad you are safe.

    It breaks my heart to see you write this about the media. I’m a journalist who has slept in the newsroom over the last week covering this storm and watching my colleagues in Florida risk their lives to make sure Americans have accurate information β€” especially people who don’t have the money or resources to get to a safe place.

    Hurricanes are hard to predict β€” this isn’t opinion, it’s fact. As you saw, they can change path in an instant like Irma did when Tampa suddenly became a target. This was the biggest storm since Andrew 25 years ago, which rocked Florida to its core. Can you imagine the wrath the media would face if it was accused of not warning people, of causing deaths? Hurricane reporting isn’t easy, and Irma made landfall two weeks after Harvey’s sudden strike where there was no time for mandatory evacuations and thousands of people needed rescue (many by journalists).

    Here are a few links you may be interested in:
    Why the hurricane wasn’t far worse and how close it came to catastrophe https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/capital-weather-gang/wp/2017/09/11/why-hurricane-irma-wasnt-far-worse-and-how-close-it-came-to-catastrophe/
    Meteorologists grading themselves (and acknowledging mistakes) in their forecasts. This team of expert weather bloggers does this every major storm.
    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/capital-weather-gang/wp/2017/09/11/irmas-track-forecast-was-adequate-but-theres-significant-room-for-improvement/?utm_term=.1b81fcdec317
    Miami Herald newsroom turns into a shelter
    http://money.cnn.com/2017/09/10/media/miami-herald-hurricane-irma/index.html
    What happens to victims of domestic violence when hurricanes hit shelters
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/domestic-violence-shelters-harvey_us_59ae07b2e4b0b5e531004a23

    Again, I’m glad you are safe. I know you must be scared and frustrated, but I don’t think the media is to blame. If you want better local reporting, donate (and subscribe). Journalism costs money and local news organizations especially are struggling.

  • Heeyoung

    I am glad you and your family are safe. And thank you very much for this post. It is quite personal (so makes me feel like I am your friend!) but still very informative so helpful. Above all, I really appreciate for you to share your sincere feelings with us.

  • Sabrina – I’m so relieved you and your loved ones are safe. Do you have any local charities you would recommend to make donations? I’d prefer to give directly to the local community affected.

    • Hi Julie – I will need to research that as I’m still fairly new to Florida. I plan on making donations to the American Red Cross but will have to ask our neighbors when I return to Florida if they recommend any local ones.

  • Holly

    God Bless you Sabrina and your family. We all worried and prayed for you.

  • Katka Prazmova Pivarci

    Hi Sabrina,
    I’m so happy that you and your family are ok. I was thinking about you when they said the hurricane was going towards Tampa. I’m on East coast and we just got our power back yesterday. I had the same feeling as you about the frenzy that was going on pretty much since day after Labor day. We couldn’t get any water for 3 days – my husband worked all day and I was with our 5-month old so we really couldn’t go from store to store looking for water. Hubby went to store at 7am and it was too early,the truck with water didn’t come yet. I went when the baby woke up and by 9:30 there was no water left… and the next day same scenario…It was tough so on one hand I was upset about the crazyness but on the other hand I know plenty of Floridians have the attitude “no hurricane can touch me, I live here all my life” so it’s good people were taken this seriously. At the end we got water from friends who decided to evacuate, we stayed – we had shutters on the ground floor and hurricane windows on the first floor. The hurricane winds were bad but the 3 days without power were worst – I was really afraid the baby would get a heat stroke – but we are fine know. And we are definitely buying generator and extra fans to be ready for next time. We are donating our supplies to one lady who is sending it to US Virgin Islands. And makeup wise – it felt so good to put on makeup again today. But I’m dreading to open my lipstick drawer yet – I have to give it another day so hopefully not all the lipsticks are completely melted☺️

  • By Georgia Grace

    Sabrina, echoing everyone else’s sentiments that we’re glad yall are safe…I’m a native of Florida and Georgia, having lived my first 18 years of life on a barrier island on the Florida-Georgia border called Amelia Island. Very close to Jacksonville, where I went to high school! Having lived there for so long, you get very used to hurricanes, and there were many that occurred over the years which we and many others on our island and in our neighborhood did not evacuate for even though evacuation was “mandatory”. Hurricanes very very rarely reach up to our area while sustaining cat 4-5 force, although the one really really bad one that we had was Hurricane Floyd back when I was a kid (cat 5 i think), which we did end up evacuating for. Even with Floyd, however, there was very minimal flooding, just homes that were right on the beach (without much buffer from the sand dunes) got flooded and only on the bottom floor. Rest of damage is usually from falling trees, which was again the case with Irma. Many did not evacuate for Irma, and much of the damage that was sustained was due to falling trees (in our neighbor’s cases). That being said, significant areas of our island were flooded with Irma, due to the storm surge. Last year or the year before with another hurricane, our downtown was flooded…I have to agree (from my anecdotal experience) with climate researchers who have concluded that climate change is likely to exacerbate effects of hurricanes and yield bigger net rainfalls and bigger storm surges, because in my 18 years on the island (I left home when I went to college, and I now live outside NYC) there wasn’t significant downtown flooding once until the last few years.

    I hope that when yall return back home you find your family’s homes intact and largely undamaged, and if you do have flooding, I hope that you will be able to get your homes back into liveable shape as soon as possible! Our hearts and prayers are with you – this has got to be tough to deal with having just moved to the area, which I cannot imagine given that it’s tough for some of us to deal with who have lived there our whole lives! It never gets easier to have part of your home / life destroyed, no matter how used to the threat you are. Sending lots of love your way – would love it if you could keep sharing updates on the situation whenever you have a chance!

    xoxo Georgia Grace