Tampa, FL – Hurricane Irma looks likely to become the first major hurricane to strike Tampa Bay directly in almost 100 years. However, for a variety of reasons, not everyone in west-central Florida fled from the storm. Some people chose to stay behind and hunker down, while others were forced to remain behind.
I had an opportunity to speak with some of those who provided reasons why they are hunkering down instead of leaving town. To protect the privacy of those who spoke with me, I have changed their names and limited their location information to counties instead of cities.
Responses from in, near, and around Tampa Bay
Ben, a Pinellas County resident, said “When there’s not a bird in sight, you know a serious storm is coming.”
Ed, from Hernando County, said that “With traffic and uncertainty of fuel, it’s better for us to just stay at my sister’s house and hunker down.”
Mike, out of Manatee County, responded with “Well, let’s see. I had to work today, and I didn’t find out until Friday morning that we would be closed Saturday-Monday, possibly longer.” And all of my family.….is also in the ‘cone,’ so [I] might as well get it over with now…..”
Peter, a resident of Polk County, had two reasons for riding Irma out at home. First, “My wife works at the local hospital…” Secondly, “I have to make sure 5,700 bbls. of beer do not stall out in the fermentation process and [then] have to be poured down the drain.”
Cindy, who lives in Pasco County, said “I stayed because of work. And then, by the time I was prepared, the roads were horrible and the gas was non-existent across the state.”
Vicki, located in Polk County, said that work required her to stay in central Florida. However, she added that her building was also built to withstand winds from major hurricanes.