In times of trouble, community comes together. We all have seen proof of this statement during the prep and recovery of Hurricane Irma. Whether you evacuated north or hunkered down to brace the powerful storm, chances are you witnessed neighbors coming together to lend a helping hand. Our Ys are no different. Y staff and volunteers worked hard in the days leading up to the anticipated landfall to protect our families, facilities and homes as much as possible from the hurricane-force winds, flooding and power outages.
The Y closed its doors early to give staff and members time to be with their families and decide the best course of action to protect themselves. During the hectic process of closing and communicating the Y’s Hurricane Preparedness Action plan, Tampa YMCA Executive Vice-President & COO Adam Klutts sent an uplifting message to more than 1,500 staff members. “I’m always impressed with our team, but the last 36 hours have shown the teamwork, dedication and leadership of our team members,” stated Adam. “Thank you for your hard work, professionalism and calmness in the face of a major emergency.”
In the end, Hurricane Irma shifted east on the night of Sept 10th and our Ys did not take a direct hit from a major hurricane like once anticipated. The heavy winds and rains did leave their mark on the facilities’ rooves, pools and landscaping. Fortunately, most of our Ys were able to re-open their doors the following Tuesday, Sept. 12th offering all community members a place to go. Our operating Ys welcomed Y members and non-member guests in to relax with air-conditioning and warm showers. Furthermore, with schools closed for the entire week, a handful of our Ys hosted Hurricane Fun Day Camp to help with childcare needs.
In addition, Y members went above and beyond to serve their Y. “We’re so thankful for our members who came and helped clean up and they even brought their rakes and shovels,” shared Campo Y Family Activities Coordinator Alicia Bentley. “Due to the generosity of our community, we passed out water, perishable goods, diapers and baby wipes for those in need.”
What our community experienced hits close to home for incoming Tampa YMCA President and CEO Matt Mitchell. He comes to Tampa from San Antonio, Texas. “San Antonio was fortunate as Hurricane Harvey ended up staying just east of us three weeks ago. We were unharmed, but communities just 30 miles to the east realized significant damage,” shares Matt. “However, the intense hardships created by Harvey in south Texas have been equally matched with an atmosphere of caring, community and compassion. It is amazing how sometimes disaster allows us to realize how much we all love and care for one another and then creates an avenue for us to act on it.”
Thank you for everyone’s support, patience and understanding during Hurricane Irma. The Tampa Y is here for the community. We are humbled and honored to know the community is here for us too!
Pictured above: The Tampa YMCA family came together during the threat and aftermath of Hurricane Irma.