Saturday, September 22, 2018
Tampa Bay Weather

Sue Carlton: At a Tampa cafe, hurricane recovery for the homeless and hungry

As volunteers dished up corn flakes and egg-ham-and-cheese sandwiches for breakfast at Trinity Cafe the morning before the hurricane hit, the question broke their hearts a little.

People asked if the cafe might spare a few trash bags. If I can't get into a shelter, they said — and they were filling up fast — at least I can try to stay dry out there tonight.

Slowly, those of us firmly on the grid inch toward post-Irma normal — neat bags of branches stacked at our curbsides, chain saws buzzing, power restored. At Trinity, a nondescript building at the edge of downtown Tampa where they serve hot meals to the homeless and hungry, life is getting there, too.

Really, it never stopped. The cafe served breakfast to 110 people hours before the storm Sunday. Lunch Monday for 201 after it passed — simple tuna or turkey sandwiches, cookies, chips and apples, since they didn't know if they would have power. But by Tuesday, 251 people showed up for what Trinity does best, a full sit-down meal of salad, pasta with a rich meat sauce, vegetables, cookies and fruit, served by aproned volunteers.

They came from hardscrabble homes crowded with people taken in for the storm, from rooming houses without power, from the streets. Families brought toddlers and teenagers sporting earbuds. And naturally — as Stand By Me played from the loudspeaker and volunteers swooped in to pour iced tea — they talked about what everyone was talking about: the hurricane and how it hit them.

John Hollis and Kelly McAloon, here from Nashville, low on funds and nowhere to stay, were trying to find work picking up the branches that were everywhere. "I'd be willing to do any kind of cleanup, I don't want to ask for handouts," Hollis said. A father tucking into his pasta said the kids were scared when Irma came through, which they promptly chorused from the other side of the table was not so.

"Thank God everything is okay," said Kenneth Webb, guiding his wife, Mary. They've been coming for years, him in his suit and red baseball cap, her in a dress, part of the family. "A blessing," he called this place.

Outside waiting for a seat in the dining room, Lamar Bryant told me about weathering the fierce winds and pelting rains that night, burrowed in his blankets on a concrete slab under a pavilion at a day care center when he couldn't get into a shelter. He told me how the sky turned purple.

"That storm was meant to wash me away," he said. "But it didn't."

"Five star" is how a grizzled man described the food, and it's true chef Benito D'Azzo's previous gig was at the high-end Straz Center for the Performing Arts. He laughed when I asked the difference: "I've been here a year and a half and I haven't gotten my first nongluten request."

I asked volunteer Trisha Kelly why she comes. "I get a lot out of it — more out of it than I give," she said, off again in the bustle of it all.

Rolling silverware into napkin bundles as fast as volunteers could grab them, assistant coordinator Phyllis Brumfield told me she really wanted to be here this day. "To make sure everybody's okay," she said.

Finally the doors closed, the last little boy juggling three apples and a bag of cookies. Then a cable repair guy working outside poked his head in. This elderly man out there didn't make it in time for lunch, he said — maybe you have some bread or something for him?

A tiny, scruffily dressed man was ushered in. Trinity executive director Mandy Cloninger went off to ask the kitchen to rustle up one more hot lunch. "Thank you, thank you," the man said over and over, having again found shelter from the storm.

 
Comments
After record-setting day in Tampa, last day of summer brings more stifling heat

After record-setting day in Tampa, last day of summer brings more stifling heat

Weather in Tampa on Thursday took one step above the previous record high, then another for good measure.The high temperature in Tampa reached 96 degrees Thursday, according to the National Weather Service. That beat the old record of 94 by two degre...
Published: 09/21/18
Heat of the moment: Tampa sets record high today with 95 degrees

Heat of the moment: Tampa sets record high today with 95 degrees

TAMPA — Congratulations, Tampanians (and a couple of you Tampans, too) because you all set a record on Thursday.The city had a record high of 95 degrees, according to the National Weather Service.That exceeded the old high of 94 degrees by just one d...
Published: 09/20/18
Afternoon thunderstorms to provide break from heat across Tampa Bay

Afternoon thunderstorms to provide break from heat across Tampa Bay

Scattered showers and thunderstorms are expected to drench Tampa Bay by Thursday afternoon, bringing a slight reprieve from temperatures that will feel like they're near 100. Hot afternoons will remain intact throughout the weekend with late-day show...
Published: 09/20/18
'You gotta take care of home': Michael Jordan donates $2 million to Florence recovery efforts

'You gotta take care of home': Michael Jordan donates $2 million to Florence recovery efforts

As Hurricane Florence slammed into the Carolinas late last week, bringing with it torrential rain and flooding, the news was grim: Towns were transformed into islands cut off by floodwaters, the number of storm-related deaths increased daily and hund...
Published: 09/19/18
As Florence dissipates, what happened to the other tropical storms in the Atlantic?

As Florence dissipates, what happened to the other tropical storms in the Atlantic?

On Sept. 10, three storms and two tropical disturbances seemed to pose a threat to the Eastern United States from the Atlantic. A graphic from National Hurricane Center showed Hurricane Florence approaching Bermuda with a trajectory aimed roughly at ...
Published: 09/19/18
Last week of summer continues typical forecast of hot, humid weather across Tampa Bay

Last week of summer continues typical forecast of hot, humid weather across Tampa Bay

Tampa Bay trudges through a week of hot and humid weather with more afternoon showers, and Wednesday's forecast indicates much of the same. While Tampa Bay appears to have a wet weekend ahead, a change in air flow will push back the timing of the sto...
Published: 09/19/18
Last week of summer continues typical forecast of hot, humid weather across Tampa Bay

Last week of summer continues typical forecast of hot, humid weather across Tampa Bay

Tampa Bay trudges through a week of hot and humid weather with more afternoon showers, and Wednesday’s forecast indicates much of the same. While Tampa Bay appears to have a wet weekend ahead, a change in air flow will push back the timing of the sto...
Published: 09/19/18
Fate of FEMA leader Brock Long in doubt as Florence cleanup continues

Fate of FEMA leader Brock Long in doubt as Florence cleanup continues

WASHINGTON — While Hurricane Florence barreled through the Carolinas, a different type of storm was brewing within the federal disaster relief agency tasked with responding to the fallout.The fate of Brock Long, the head of the Federal Emergen...
Published: 09/19/18
Plenty of sunshine means hot, humid day for Tampa Bay

Plenty of sunshine means hot, humid day for Tampa Bay

Temperatures will rocket into the lower 90s by the late morning to early afternoon Tuesday, while little cloud cover will leave plenty of sunshine to warm up Tampa Bay.Tuesday morning will begin relatively dry with sparse cloud cover and few storms a...
Published: 09/18/18
Plenty of sunshine means hot, humid day for Tampa Bay

Plenty of sunshine means hot, humid day for Tampa Bay

Temperatures will rocket into the lower 90s by the late morning to early afternoon Tuesday, while little cloud cover will leave plenty of sunshine to warm up Tampa Bay.Tuesday morning will begin relatively dry with sparse cloud cover and few storms a...
Published: 09/18/18