Irma Evacuation: Was It Worth It?

Khalle Brown was one of 29,000 who evacuated to a HCPS school location.


Cydney Socias

With the hurricane behind him, Khalle Brown is back to the reality of classes, homework and just being a student.

The regularly clear skies of Tampa Bay seemed to darken and churn as the massive storm, Hurricane Irma, readied itself to hit the city. Early Monday morning, the eye wall -the worst part of any hurricane-  brought its savagely violent 90mph winds over Tampa. Most Tampanians could have been found in their homes, peering out of their windows to get a glance on the category one hurricane. However, some locals chose to evacuate. Comical and lively Blake High School freshman, Khalle Brown, was one of many Tampa residents who evacuated, alongside his aunt. The two evacuated early on Friday. “My aunt… she was over prepared.” Brown said with a laugh. “I wasn’t really worried,” Brown said, describing his mood with a nod, “I’ve always been prepared for the worst”. Since the family evacuated prematurely, they did not experience much traffic. Brown and his aunt evacuated to Pizzo Elementary School, a local Hillsborough County public school.

“My aunt didn’t like the elementary school,” Brown recalled the tense atmosphere in the shelter. It only seemed to increase as the hands of the clock inched forward, signalling the approach as the incoming hurricane. In the elementary school, evacuees took shelter inside of classrooms.  He vividly remembered how tight the space was. “I was laying in the middle of the room and I hit my leg on this woman’s sheets.” The woman proceeded to get very angry, going as far as to awaken others around her and “shouting in some different language.” The situation had spooked Brown’s aunt so much, she refused to sleep in the same room as the other woman. She spent the rest of the night outside of the classroom, in the hallway. As night fell, the condition of the shelters seemed to worsen. “I almost froze to death!” Brown exclaimed, demonstrating with a shiver.

Was it worth it to evacuate? Khalle Brown firmly answered, complete with a dry laugh, “No, no it wasn’t. I had to sleep on the floor.” The evacuation wasn’t even necessary for Brown and his family. “There was no damage.” Brown described his world post Irma and post evacuation. “It was just like an autumn coming immediately- the leaves and twigs on the ground.” Brown really missed the only two things that were affected in his own house, the TV and internet.

“The two most important things to me were gone- cable and wifi!”

Although hurricane Irma devastated some portions of Florida, Tampa seemed to escape yet another hurricane’s treacherous wrath. Most Tampainians who chose to evacuate, including Khalle Brown and his family, expected the worst. However Brown’s family, along with many others, did not have any major damage on their homes. The Browns only saw a small shower of browning leaves and thin twigs. After thinking about his own evacuation, Khalle Brown shared how he felt at the conclusion of his Irma experience: “I felt a weird sense of relief, like I could finally have my life back.”