SHORE ACRES — In the two days since floodwater crept into Meghan Martin’s house during Hurricane Idalia, at least 30 people have stopped by.
Volunteers from Loving St. Pete, armed with gloves and bleach, tossed soaked books and toys into a dumpster. Workers from a restoration company sliced out the swollen wood doorframes and drywall. Friends from the neighborhood, including some who also got over 6 inches of water in their homes, dropped off sandwiches and Gatorade.
“Feel free to come in,” Martin, 39, said on Friday afternoon. “There’s no privacy anymore.”
Online, even more people have been inside Martin’s home. Her 1.4 million or so TikTok followers tuned in as she uploaded videos before, during and after Hurricane Idalia. She wanted to show them what living through a storm was like.
A pediatric emergency physician known on TikTok as @beachgem10, Martin grew a following by posting health-related explainers and lifestyle content. While she lives and works in St. Pete, she has followers all over the world.
This was not her first brush with disaster, Martin told them.
When Martin and her family moved into their Shore Acres home seven years ago, the property had only ever flooded once. There was an amazing school in the neighborhood. The four-bedroom, 2,000-square-foot ranch offered plenty of space for a couple, four kids and four cats. There was a loving community of neighbors.
Then Hurricane Eta snuck up on them in 2020. With less than 12 hours to prepare, many possessions were contaminated by filthy floodwater.
Hurricane Idalia approached quickly, too. Martin and her husband, Brian, did what they could this time, lifting items in their bedrooms and hoping for the best. They left an outdoor camera pointed at their front door and evacuated.
As the hurricane approached, Martin was working a shift at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital. She watched as photos came in from the camera, the black water inching up higher in each image.
Then she posted them online.
“Watch the water level rise with the storm surge,” she wrote.
Nearly 2 million viewed the next video showing the contents of her flooded home.
“We have flood insurance on the house but not the contents (this is different than home owners insurance),” Martin wrote in the caption.
They are putting together a plan, she said, but feeling pretty overwhelmed.
Later, between trips to the store and hauling out her wet possessions, Martin stitched together clips of the cleanup process.
Some people who responded were mean.
“There’s certain comments that I’m seeing like, over and over again, like, ‘Well, why wasn’t everything off the floor?’” she said Friday. “We have four kids, and I worked a bunch of nights. We really didn’t have a lot of time to prepare, even though we knew this thing was out there. ... People don’t necessarily know that or see that if they’re not here.”
Others have shown compassion instead. Followers urged her to create a GoFundMe. Within 24 hours, they raised over $30,000 for her family and neighbors.
“YOU HELP SO MANY!!! It’s our turn to help!” one woman commented.
“Stay strong,” another wrote.
Martin and her family are staying nearby, in a condo owned by one of her co-workers. They plan to move back home as soon as possible. They’ll look into raising their house before the next storm season. It will be expensive, but easier than finding a new property of the same size in their budget.
Martin plans to pass the generosity of her followers along.
Thousands of dollars of the funds will go to her neighbors, including one whose home caught on fire during the flood.
“The day that the flood happened, it was rough,” she said. “And at this point, I don’t feel terrible. I’m ready to tackle this, and I’m ready to be available for our neighbors and friends.”
“It is hard being on the side receiving help,” she continued. “But also I feel lucky.”
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