Tuesday, December 12, 2017
Tampa Bay Weather

Some take break from storm prep to enjoy empty Clearwater Beach

Joyce and Jim Andre heard the evacuation order to leave their third-floor condo in Cove Cay overlooking Tampa Bay near Largo.

But taking their chances, they stocked the house with food and water and decided to stay. Then they headed to Clearwater Beach on Friday morning to enjoy the last few hours of peace before Hurricane Irma is expected to hit.

"We're taking advantage of a beautiful day before we'll be holed up inside," Joyce Andre, 70, said. "Today it's like having a private beach."

The couple arrived around 9 a.m., one hour before police blocked access to the Clearwater Memorial Causeway bridge to everyone except beach residents and employees.

The water was calm, with only small waves slapping the shore. The late morning rush of tourists never showed up.

The Andres spent two decades in Houston before moving to Florida in 2000 and have been following Hurricane Harvey's devastation there in horror.

They are staying optimistic about Irma's still uncertain path towards Tampa Bay. They are planning a hurricane party with other Cove Cay residents who have stayed put.

And they still plan to take their trip to an Arizona resort in a few weeks to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary.

"Let's hope we make it," Joyce Andre said.

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