Thursday, November 23, 2017
Tampa Bay Weather

Tampa church is refuge of last resort for family fleeing second hurricane

RECOMMENDED READING


TAMPA — For Abigail Feliz and her family, the Hyde Park Presbyterian Church on Swann Avenue is the latest stop in a tour of misery that began the night the rains came to Houston.

"We lost everything there during Hurricane Harvey," said Feliz, 38, as she stood in the hot sun outside a shelter from the ravages of Hurricane Irma. "The water started coming in. The kids were screaming, so we jumped in the car and came to Tampa."

The original plan, said Feliz, a therapist who works with diabetic patients and is 14 weeks pregnant, was to stay with friends on Palm River Road in Tampa.

But then came Irma. And the rains and the wind. Her children, 11, 2 and 1, started screaming again as the water rose ankle deep inside the home. So Feliz and her husband, Michael, packed up the family and went to a hotel. But after three days, the money ran out. They reached the Red Cross and were told to come to Hyde Park Presbyterian.

Through emergency services available at the church, Michael Feliz was able to land a temporary job in a local warehouse from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. He was sleeping in the shelter Friday afternoon before starting his next shift, though rest here is a challenge.

There's a roof and food and water, Feliz said, but during the night, there was a woman screaming for her dead husband, another talking loudly to an imaginary friend, and someone who grabbed Feliz's ankle in the dark.

All the while, the family is camped out in a hallway near the restroom. People parade by their cots all night. The lights go on. The noise gets loud.

"It's stressful," she said. "But I have to stay strong for my family. I can't let them see me be afraid, even though I am torn up inside."

Adding to their problems is that because they did not have property in Tampa that suffered damage, they are not eligible for relief funds here. Representatives from the federal agency visited the church Friday afternoon to take claims information.

But the family left Houston before applying for FEMA help there and learned from the officials in Tampa that applying in Houston now will mean a longer wait.

Susan Shaw, a disaster relief worker for the American Red Cross, said the organization is doing what it can for people at Hyde Park Presbyterian and across Hillsborough County.

"We don't turn anyone away," Shaw said.

The Red Cross still is helping about 90 people across the county, including the 30 staying Thursday night at the church.

Kurt Jensen, a Red Cross disaster mental health worker who came from Cleveland to help, said kids like the Feliz children have an especially tough time because their world has been upended.

"They can't go to their school," he said. "They can't play with their friends. They don't know when they will go home."

So he does what he can, providing mental health first aid, counseling and advice.

"These are tough conditions," he said.

Tough for the church, as well. Hyde Park Presbyterian is not equipped as a homeless shelter and the pastor, the Rev. James Friesen, worries what will happen to people like the Feliz family, who fall through the cracks of services offered.

"This is a 100-year-old building," Friesen said. "We are happy to help, but there is only so much 100-year-old plumbing can handle."

Shaw said she doesn't yet know when the relief effort here will wrap up.

Meanwhile, Abigail Feliz waits.

"I don't know what will happen next," she said. "I don't know where we will go."

Contact Howard Altman at [email protected] or (813) 225-3112. Follow @haltman.

Comments
Thanksgiving forecast: Rain today, but sunny skies this weekend

Thanksgiving forecast: Rain today, but sunny skies this weekend

It’s going to be a wet Thanksgiving across Tampa Bay, but sunny skies are coming during the long weekend, according to WTSP 10Weather meteorologist Ric Kearbey. 10News WTSPThe latest Tampa Bay-area radar 10...
Published: 11/23/17
Forecast: Foggy, then partly cloudy Thanksgiving Eve before holiday rain takes hold across Tampa Bay

Forecast: Foggy, then partly cloudy Thanksgiving Eve before holiday rain takes hold across Tampa Bay

A foggy, then partly cloudy day precedes what potentially could be a wet and dreary Thanksgiving across Tampa Bay.Deep moisture in the region has produced thick fog early Wednesday morning, with visibility reduced to a quarter-mile in some areas — in...
Published: 11/22/17
Nursing home tells Congress Irma deaths not staff’s fault

Nursing home tells Congress Irma deaths not staff’s fault

Associated PressFORT LAUDERDALE — A Florida nursing home under investigation for the deaths of 13 patients after Hurricane Irma says in a letter to Congress that staff members did everything possible but couldn’t overcome a lack of power to the centr...
Published: 11/21/17
Forecast: Clouds build, setting stage for a soggy Thanksgiving across Tampa Bay

Forecast: Clouds build, setting stage for a soggy Thanksgiving across Tampa Bay

Clouds and temperatures are increasing — and so are rain chances – as Thanksgiving could be a soggy one across the Tampa Bay region.[WTSP]Check the latest Tampa Bay-area live radar: The wet outlook is due to a systems that will produce spotty shower...
Published: 11/21/17
Forecast: Sunny, crisp conditions across Tampa Bay ahead of a soggy Thanksgiving

Forecast: Sunny, crisp conditions across Tampa Bay ahead of a soggy Thanksgiving

Crisp, refreshing and sunny fall-like conditions will remain over the Tampa Bay region before a pair of cold fronts move through the area during the week, culminating in a soggy Thanksgiving day.Temperatures are starting off around 10 degrees cooler ...
Published: 11/20/17
Two months after Hurricane Maria, Puerto Rico struggles to regain electricity, thousands flee

Two months after Hurricane Maria, Puerto Rico struggles to regain electricity, thousands flee

Los Angeles Times (TNS)ANASCO, Puerto Rico — The lights remain off in bustling cities and in small rural villages. Gas generators, the only alternative to the downed power lines that seem to be everywhere, continuously hum outside hospitals and bodeg...
Published: 11/19/17
Forecast: Cold front to bring rain, wind gusts to Tampa Bay

Forecast: Cold front to bring rain, wind gusts to Tampa Bay

ST. PETERSBURG — A warm Sunday will be threatened by a few afternoon rain showers and wind gusts up to 20 mph, forecasters predict. 10News WTSPThe latest Tampa Bay-area radar 10News WTSPFeels-like temperatu...
Published: 11/19/17
Forecast: Ideal conditions across Tampa leading to weekend, but rain is on its way

Forecast: Ideal conditions across Tampa leading to weekend, but rain is on its way

The week ends with more virtually ideal weather conditions across Tampa Bay, but that changes a bit on Sunday with the arrival of a cold front that could result in a soggy Thanksgiving.10News WTSPFeels-like temperatures around the Tampa Bay area Whi...
Published: 11/17/17
Forecast: Low clouds will yield to sunny, pleasant conditions across Tampa Bay

Forecast: Low clouds will yield to sunny, pleasant conditions across Tampa Bay

A cloudy morning will lead to another cool, sunny day as a string of pleasant, comfortable days will remain intact across Tampa Bay.Temperatures are starting off in the upper 50s to low 60s. Once the low clouds burn off as the day progresses, dry air...
Published: 11/16/17
Forecast: Sunny, breezy and refreshing conditions prevail across Tampa Bay

Forecast: Sunny, breezy and refreshing conditions prevail across Tampa Bay

Wednesday is setting up as another sunny, pleasant and breezy day across Tampa Bay.10News WTSPFeels-like temperatures around the Tampa Bay area Residents are waking up to temperatures anywhere from 5 to 10 degrees cooler than Tuesday, with lows in t...
Published: 11/15/17