Monday, November 20, 2017
Tampa Bay Weather

In Tampa after Irma: 'We keep sweating. Everything is wet.'

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TAMPA — Neighbors Angel Hurt and Turekisha Little were hot and tired when they arrived at a community-based food and water drive for the Belmont Heights Estates housing community.

They joked with each other as they filled plastic bags with bottled water, potato chips and deodorant, but going without power was getting to them.

Hurt, 56, lives on N 37th Street and heard her power should be back Sunday or Monday.

"I'm feeling all right, just being depressed," he said, "because we don't have no light, and it's hot."

"We keep sweating," she said. "Everything is wet."

Whenever she takes a cold shower, as soon as she gets out, she's sweaty again.

She said she knows it could have been worse, and thanks the Lord she's "still here."

Little, 45, is a mother of four. She got a bag full of candles, since Hurt beat her to a flashlight.

"They told me, 'Don't use the candles (inside),'" she said.

But it's dark inside, and she decided to get them anyway.

Organizers collected dozens of cases of water, and covered tables with cans of food and supplies like batteries and cleaning wipes. They let residents arrive and take anything with them in plastic bags. Late in the afternoon, they planned to drive through the neighborhoods to find people without transportation.

The power outages affected the organizers, too.

James Cole, advisor for Hillsborough County's NAACP Youth Council, didn't have electricity at his own home, but he had water and the ability to help others, he said.

Cole brought a team of half a dozen teenagers to help sort donations and carry them around the neighborhood. He wanted to stress the importance of community service and found that the teens were happy to oblige.

"All I have to do is say, 'Here's the need,'" he said.

Volunteer Charlea Bing, 15, knows she's helping black communities through the Youth Council, and she loves meeting the people she helps.

"Seeing their reaction is what will always get me," she said.

Donna Davis of Black Lives Matter Tampa was pleased that local groups led the charge.

"The greatest form of community support and charity comes from the community itself," she said.

Contact Langston Taylor at ltaylor@tampabay.com. Follow @langstonitaylor.

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