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Irma stresses, batters Tampa

A Collection of Irma Coverage

Pep O' Plant Staff

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The hurricane known as Irma instilled anxiety amongst Florida citizens as it approached the peninsula, leading to massive evacuations and consequently food, water and gas shortages. After bearing over Central America, it first made landfall in the Florida Keys as a category four storm, it weakened as it moved up the state, but nevertheless left a path of destruction in its wake.

Pep O' Plant Staff

When Irma Came to Town

Local restauranteur shelters 150, their pets from hurricane 

By Chloe-Amelie Aikman, Staff Writer

In an abundance of caution, schools close. Flood zones are faced with mandatory evacuation. The public scrambles for plywood, sandbags, generators – gas stations dry up and weather channel spaghetti models shift only nearer to local devastation.  

Bread and water disappear from shelves. Tampa enacts a curfew. Families at home are glued to the television, Hurricane Harvey aftermath still fresh in their thoughts. 

Amidst the panic, as households pack up and board up, news comes that one man has opened his doors for his community to take shelter. 

Ergin Tek, owner of restaurant Gengiz Khan an 18-year-long resident, converted his establishment and livelihood from grill to shelter for three days to those seeking refuge. On the higher ground of Bay to Bay, Tek was able to offer sanctuary to 150 people and 62 of their pets during Irma’s collision with Tampa. 

“When someone is your customer, or your friend, or your neighbor in the community, when they need you – you have to do your job. This was something that we had to do.” Tek said. 

Not only offering a place for people to sleep safely, Tek also had a room set up entirely for the benefit of pets. He offered professionally prepared meals, with beverages and morning coffee for his guests – and was able to achieve this despite losing power for two days. With the aid of battery backups and a generator, they were able to keep food from spoiling.  

Prior to the storm, almost all furniture and items deemed nonessential were moved out to make room for his temporary residents. 

“I’d rather be prepared than not. I’d rather help, than not. I’d rather get people together and inspire, than not… I’ll do it again,” Tek said. 

Tek was met with an overwhelmingly positive response, receiving flowers, fruits, mail and thousands upon thousands of online messages expressing gratitude.  

With the storm passed, Tek was able to reopen Gengiz Khan on Friday, Sept. 15, but not before one final act of kindness: donating the surplus emergency supplies to the neighborhood free of charge. 

“If I die, what would I care about what I have? So I thought I should spend something, that way I can save lives with it,” said Tek.  

Tek, and Gengiz Khan, will be making a future appearance in a book set to come out this November about hurricanes Harvey and Irma, including the efforts of those who worked to overcome them. 

 

Evacuation creates new friends for freshman

By Savannah Lowry, Editor-in-Chief

As the winds of Hurricane Irma increased by the day, so did the stresses of Florida residents. The flood-welcoming roads of South Tampa, began to be more and more classified by news anchors, as hazardous locations for residency during the hours Irma was projected to hit the Tampa area. 

With this information in mind, freshman Zeyda Lynn and her mom evacuated from their Bayshore area home just days before Irma’s landfall. 

“We were just going to stay at my Grandparents’ house, because we were like, ‘okay, Bayshore is going to get flooded’,” Lynn said. “My grandparents’ house is just north of South Tampa so we thought it wouldn’t be that bad there.”  

Not thinking any further evacuations would be necessary, the pair left their home with just a small amount food and clothes. 

After just a day passed, Lynn and her family made the decision to evacuate even farther from Tampa to a shelter in Orlando. 

“When we woke up Sunday morning we saw the news report that it [Irma] got worse, and we were like okay were going now, we don’t want to stay and regret it,” Lynn said. 

As the water was pulled out of Tampa Bay on Sunday morning, Lynn and her mom, began their drive to Orlando, but Lynn had worries of crowds and driving in stormy weather.  

“[When my mom said to evacuate] I was kind of worried about the drive over, if it was till safe enough, but the news said if you’re going to go, you need to go now, so we went since it wasn’t too long of a drive,” Lynn said. 

However, when Lynn arrived she was happy to take part in an enjoyable experience. 

“So we drove down to Orlando, we stayed in a shelter and hoped they would have enough space and they did,” Lynn said. “It wasn’t too crowded, we met people and I actually kind of had some fun.” 

The shelter served the purpose of safety for the Lynn family, but Lynn was able to go beyond safety and make friends. 

“At the shelter it was fun. I met some girls around my age and we hung out and I finished a lot of homework,” Lynn said.  

Although Lynn’s drive home didn’t greet her with extreme amounts of traffic and struggles of finding gas, as was reported in abundance, but she did see some of the harsh impacts of Irma’s extreme winds and rain. 

“We had to wait for a 6 p.m. curfew so we got home really late and I remember seeing the billboards all ripped up,” Lynn said.  

Lynn’s evacuation to Orlando could have been a nerve racking time, but she embraced the situation as an opportunity for new friends. 

 

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Irma stresses, batters Tampa