That time we left everything for Irma (plus, how you can help!)
This past week has been one of the most bizarre, surreal experiences of my life. As the world looked on, Hurricane Irma slowly crept her way up through the Caribbean, causing massive destruction (including over 90% of the island of Barbuda), threatening to make a direct hit on my home of St. Petersburg, FL.
Late in the night on Wednesday September 6th, we decided to evacuate. We weren't sure what was going to happen, but one thing I did know for sure was that the risk of staying was way higher than the cost of us leaving. We only live a few blocks from the water and with my little dog Rosie in mind, there was no way I was taking the risk of a category 4 or 5 (or even 3) hurricane hitting our 100+ year old building. So with our canned goods, a few belongings and some clothes, we decided to battle the gas shortages (oh yeah, did I mention that? Because that was a real thing too!) and make our way to Tennessee.
It took us 21 hours to get to a place where we felt safe, yet there was no sense of relaxation as we watched Irma make her way over Cuba and up to the Keys. From afar we watched as our friends defended their decisions to stay, struggle to get supplies, and for many of them decide to leave at the very last minute. We were faced with the very real possibility that everything we had could be blown away. That people we knew could get hurt, and that our community would be forever changed.
By the grace of Mama Gaia (aka Mother Nature), St. Pete and Tampa were spared. This happens nearly every time a hurricane comes through, but this time the storm went east within hours of a potential hit. It was an incredible thing to watch, yet our hearts still ache for those who thought they were in the clear and got hit in the end.
Make no mistake, this was a very serious storm. Lives and homes were lost. Communities across Florida and the Caribbean are in recovery mode. There is a lot of work to be done, even in St. Pete. There were also a lot of takeaways that I'll share with you but for now, I want to tell you how you can help. Because feeling bad about something doesn't help people rebuild their lives when everything is lost.
We, as a collective global community, have to do something.
I have personally chosen to support The Miami Foundation and their relief efforts that will not only benefit people in Florida, but those in the Caribbean as well. They support three different initiatives with this goal; The Hurricane Relief Fund, Irma Caribbean Strong Relief Fund, and Irma Community Recovery Fund. You can read more about them all here.
As business owners we have the ability to do more than just talk about helping. We have the ability to act.
So for the entire month of September and October, a portion of all jewelry sales will go towards The Miami Foundation's hurricane relief efforts, split between each of the three funds above.
We are grateful here in St. Pete. We've got a lot of cleaning up to do, but we know exactly how lucky we are. It's hard to put into words how it felt to come to a home that was exactly as we left it, to finally breath for the first time in a week, to know that we are one of the lucky ones. If you would like to donate to The Miami Foundation directly, please do so here.