As Hurricane Irma loomed ahead, a former Greenwood resident packed a bag to be ready for a three- to five-day stay away from home.
KrisAnn Snow, who lived in Greenwood for 10 years and graduated from Greenwood Community High School in 2005, is a member of the team of staff hunkering down at Tampa General Hospital as Irma hits their state.
They are ready to take new patients as long as the bridge leading to their hospital, which is on an island, stays open. And if it closes, likely due to high winds, then they will continue to care for the patients they have in the hospital, Snow said.
The area has been hit by hurricanes before, and hospital officials have taken steps to protect the building, including moving generators to the third floor and reinforced doors to stop water from getting into the basement, she said.
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But in the days leading up to the hurricane, which at one point was a Category 5 storm, patients were moved to different areas of the hospital, where they could be more easily reached, such as a rehabilitation center that requires crossing a bridge to get to the building, Snow said.
On Sunday, what had been a clear weekend had turned windy, and Irma was expected to bring hurricane-force winds and 5- to 8-foot storm surges. Snow, a critical care nurse, was exactly where she planned to be, after volunteering to be on the team that stays at the hospital 24 hours a day until it is safe for staff to leave and other staff to come in to relieve them, she said. They had been told to plan to stay for three to five days, with fellow staff bringing in air mattresses and sleeping bags, she said.
Snow, 30, doesn’t have any children, and volunteered to serve on the team in place of other staff who may have kids or other relatives to care for, she said.
“Nothing requires me to be home,” she said. “I wanted to give others an opportunity to be with their family.”
This was Snow’s first time being at work during a hurricane, though she has been through hurricanes before, she said. She moved back to Florida after graduation.
Fellow hospital staff were doing their jobs as usual in caring for patients. But their emergency room was ready to handle up to double its usual capacity. Anticipation was in the air, she said.
“I think everyone is a little on edge. You don’t know where a hurricane is going to go,” Snow said.
“We’re just ready. We want this to be over with.”