Friday, June 22, 2018
Top News App

Dispatch from a hurricane shelter: 'I only saw the best'

Conditions varied from shelter to shelter during Hurricane Irma. Here at the Gradebook, we've heard the good and the bad. But we thought we would share this account from Ruth Salvaggio, who hunkered down at Sunlake High. A copy of her letter (below) came with a handwritten note: "I thought the media would like to hear an encouraging story that came from Irma."

To the staff and volunteers at Sunlake High School:

I came home today after having spent three days and two nights at your shelter. In all the years that I have lived in Florida, this was the first time I ever went to a shelter. I had no idea what to expect.

To say I was pleasantly surprised would be an understatement.

There were six of us signing in together, along with two cats and a dog. The registration was not only handled professionally, but kindly and compassionately. We were assigned to a small classroom where we could stay together. Directions were given as to where to take the animals, and a young man showed us to our room.

We were told that dinner would be served in the cafeteria. Actually, three meals a day would be served in the cafeteria. What? I didn't know this.

On our way back to our room, we saw a movie being shown on a huge screen on the wall. They also showed cartoons for the littles ones, and college football for the guys.

This is a shelter?

Although it was up to individual pet owners to make sure the dogs went for a walk and to check on any animals that they brought there, how comforting it was for them to know that their animals were being watched over by caring people from the SPCA.

Kudos to the young students attending Sun Lake who volunteered to assist the thousands who had been evacuated from their homes, and to the staff, custodians, teachers and others -- including the National Guard -- who left their homes to do what they could for others.

My friend and I offered to help clean up the cafeteria after meals. They accepted our offer and we heard so many thank-you's from grateful people.

We were kept informed by means of the intercom. Each time, the "residents" of the shelter were praised for their patience and cooperation.

Events like this bring out either the best or the worst in people. In this instance, I only saw the best, both in those who were sheltered and those who did the sheltering. Thank you, many times over ... thank you.

Ruth D. Salvaggio
New Port Richey

Comments
Pride divided no more: St. Pete Pride comes back together

Pride divided no more: St. Pete Pride comes back together

ST. PETERSBURG — The 16th annual St. Pete Pride Parade is getting ready to march along the downtown waterfront the second straight year. But many hope to move past the division caused last year when the parade was uprooted from its original hom...
Updated: 4 minutes ago
St. Pete man carves out a career and a way of life

St. Pete man carves out a career and a way of life

Wes Wing was down in the Keys, repairing roofs on family homes, after Hurricane George hit in September 1998. He wanted to beat the storm, as it traveled up the coast, and get back to St. Petersburg in time for a hurricane party he was hosting, so h...
Updated: 9 minutes ago
St. Petersburg couple drive a minivan, volunteer at church and were CIA spies

St. Petersburg couple drive a minivan, volunteer at church and were CIA spies

What's it like to start a family when you're working for the CIA? Jihi and Andrew Bustamante know.
Updated: 2 hours ago
At a Mexican shelter, migrants who fled death threats prepare for ‘zero tolerance’ at the border

At a Mexican shelter, migrants who fled death threats prepare for ‘zero tolerance’ at the border

PIEDRAS NEGRAS, Mexico — In Honduras, their lives were surrounded by death.Lourdes Cruz had just started a new job when the maras, the deadly gangs plaguing Central America, demanded half of her paycheck. She quit her job, but they found her number a...
Updated: 2 hours ago
The Daystarter: The Jameis Winston fallout; from CIA agents to minivan drivers; Pride comes back together in 2018

The Daystarter: The Jameis Winston fallout; from CIA agents to minivan drivers; Pride comes back together in 2018

Catching you up on overnight happenings, and what to know today.   • Get ready for a wet morning as the forecast calls for scattered showers and storms to start the day. There could even be thundershowers and lightning out there, according to...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Boy George, coming to Tampa with Culture Club, talks fame, Pulse and the term ‘LGBTQ’

Boy George, coming to Tampa with Culture Club, talks fame, Pulse and the term ‘LGBTQ’

It’ll still be June when Boy George arrives in Florida this week to kick off a summer U.S. tour with Culture Club. But the LGBTQ icon says it won’t feel quite like a Pride parade. "I also bake cakes for straight people," he laughed. "Tha...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Carlton: Could anything be more partisan than going nonpartisan?

Carlton: Could anything be more partisan than going nonpartisan?

So Hillsborough County commissioners — most of them, anyway — want voters to consider dropping political parties from certain elections, making those races nonpartisan instead.This would mean when you go to vote in those elections, you won’t know if ...
Published: 06/22/18
Top things to do in Tampa Bay for June 23

Top things to do in Tampa Bay for June 23

St. Pete Pride Block Party and Night Parade: St. Pete Pride’s popular parade has moved to downtown St. Petersburg’s scenic waterfront. The block party brings DJs, food and drinks starting at 2 p.m. The parade steps off at Fifth Ave NE and Bayshore at...
Published: 06/22/18
Kids find refugee from the street at Sulphur Springs day camp

Kids find refugee from the street at Sulphur Springs day camp

Last summer, Taem’ari Merrell spent much of her time on the couch watching YouTube.This summer, the 10-year-old is learning how to make videos.DeAndre Felton filled his 2017 summer schedule by reading comic books. But now, the 10-year-old spends days...
Published: 06/22/18
Top things to do in Tampa Bay for June 24

Top things to do in Tampa Bay for June 24

Summer Classic Movie Series: See 1962’s To Kill a Mockingbird. 3 p.m., Tampa Theatre, 711 Franklin St., Tampa. $10, $7 members. (813) 274-8982; tampatheatre.org.St. Pete Pride Festival: The daytime festival covers Central Avenue’s Grand Central Distr...
Published: 06/22/18