Shortly after Hurricane Harvey hit Texas, we were bracing ourselves for Hurricane Irma in Florida. Where I live in Tampa was expected to get hit pretty hard. Having just moved to Tampa from Pennsylvania, this would be my first experience with a hurricane.

Since this was my first hurricane and not Florida’s first hurricane, they were as ready as they could be. Evacuations were arranged and I looked up where I would have to evacuate should the need arise. My evacuation point was the elementary school down the street from my apartment so I figured that I would ride out the storm at home. If things were to get really bad, I would use my bathroom as a shelter, seeing how it was the only windowless room in my apartment. Fortunately, things in my part of Florida did not get that bad. On Sunday morning the sky looked menacing and I, like the rest of the state, prepared for the worst and prayed for the best.

By the time Irma made landfall on Monday it was downgraded to a tropical storm and then to a tropical depression. A friend of mine on her blog summed up her thoughts on the whole ordeal as “feeling blessed, yet guilty.” The fact that the storm was not as bad in my area meant that other areas would not be as lucky. As of Wednesday when I wrote this blog, the Florida Keys, Miami and the southern most parts of the state are still reeling from the storm.

Having lived in Pennsylvania for most of my life before moving here to Florida, the hardest weather I had to deal with was blizzards. The snowstorms we got in the Northeast pale in comparison to the devastation of a hurricane. The worst we ever seemed to have it was back during the Blizzard of 1995 when the snow came up and literally blocked out doorways; even then we were stuck at home for a couple of days. In fact, I don’t even mind shoveling snow that much since I can’t stand getting cooped up inside and I always had help from my two energetic, young sons.

So my first hurricane is in the books. I’m still here and I still love Florida. I was never afraid and felt safe which I am sure is because of some wonderful friends and family up north praying for me! Also helpful were my Florida friends who have been through a hurricane or two are tough and were up for the challenges a hurricane can bring. Some give credit to mounds built by the Tocobagan tribe that they built along the Pinellas Peninsula for protecting us from the storm and storms in the past; Tampa hasn’t taken a direct hit from a storm since 1929. All I know is that I am thankful to be here for another day.

My church is putting together a clean up effort and I will help once things settle a little more and they just need able bodies, rather than first responders or professional contractors. Next weekend I will be flying back to Pennsylvania to see family, clients and to attend PROFITCon17! Last year’s conference was amazing and I can’t wait for this year’s event and the opportunities that it will bring.

Due to the storm, our series on Giving Back Through Business was put on delay. Check out the blog in two weeks for our next piece in that series.