Hurrica-tion Evacuation (2016)

Hurricane Matthew: Clearwater Beach, FL

Psalm 107:29: He calmed the storm to a whisper; the waves of the sea were hushed.

I guess I’m officially a Floridian.

In 2004, Hurricane Charley (along with a few of his friends afterward), affected Jacksonville, FL while Logan & I were in college at Jacksonville University. As my parents prepared to buy a flight and send me back to NJ to avoid the storm, God had other plans in store for me — meeting my [now] husband at a campus pre-hurricane party.

Last year, in 2016, I was recovering from a double mastectomy at home that I had done in late September. {You can read more about my sister’s journey through breast cancer and my preventative journey here: Bravery without BRCA}. It was just a few weeks after the surgery, and the news around our area of Ponte Vedra, FL was that Hurricane Matthew was about to be on the prowl.

My parents were here in their vacation home from NJ, still helping me post-operation, so we all needed to decide the burning question that pops up during hurricane season: should we stay or should we go?

Since I was recovering and our kids were ever-so addicted to their technology devices, we decided to go and head west to a spot that we had vacationed before at as a family, Clearwater Beach, FL. My parents, Grammy & Pop, stayed back with our dog and they guaranteed us that they had everything under control.

The weather there was ominous but of course better than Jacksonville’s weather. The skies were dark and cloudy, the waves crashed wildly. It was so tough to see warnings of a hurricane hitting the area of home everywhere we looked on our phones and TV.

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All in all, it was a sweet little family hurri-cation that we truly enjoyed. We were able to be tourists and enjoy the city and time with each other. While we worried about our family and friends back home, it was nice to escape the hurricane with a little mini-vacation.

While in Clearwater Beach, we visited some of the tourist spots like Frenchy’s for dinner and frozen drinks and taking the kids mini-golfing for the first time ever!

The best gem of all: we spent hours at the wonderful children’s museum in Tampa, Glazer Children’s Museum. The kids enjoyed every second of their visit there and if we are ever in the area again, we will for sure go back! They had every sensory and imaginary-type play there possible, with my favorite: a mini-replica of shopping at Publix! Kids are able to choose an item off the shelf, ring it up and pay for the item. It was seriously so cool!

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We had been to Clearwater Beach many times before as my husband spent part of his teenage years there. One of the most beautiful hotels that we have stayed in is the Sandpearl Hotel. It is total luxury and has a beautiful waterfront property – very recommended!

Clearwater Beach is also special to us because we took our first son there when he was only six months old for our very first family mini-trek. My heart just bursts looking back to these old photos! I mean, when was he even this little? I don’t get it!

My husband has been a long-time Tampa Rays fan, so there was really nothing in the world more exciting to him than taking his first-born son to his first game! These memories are just so special to us.

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Hurricane Irma: Ponte Vedra, FL {Home}

When news of another hurricane heading our way arrived, there was one question asked over and over again on my mom’s club: should we stay or should we go?

I knew that last year I had experienced a restful, fun family vacation but I had also recovered recently from a major surgery. I had a gut feeling that Logan would want to stick it out this time…and I was right.

I stocked up on the essentials: water bottles, extra matches, dry foods and lots of wine! Thankfully our kids are a little less obsessed with technology these days, so I was willing to stay home and see what weathering the storm was truly all about.

As the storm approached, we were feeling good. It was raining and windy but the TV was on for entertainment and the air conditioning was flowing. One major downside to this storm was that the worst part was scheduled to arrive in the middle of the night. And so, we bunkered down together in our room for a very long night together without sleep.


The sounds from that night may haunt me forever. HOWLING winds, banging, insects screaming {and our kids talking to each other and not sleeping at 3:00am}; everything about that night was horrific. We were fearful of tornado warnings and watches and just felt very uneasy. We knew that our Almighty Lord would shelter us from the storm, but we still felt very vulnerable and uncomfortable.

We were without power for about 16 hours, but were so fortunate compared to so many neighbors and friends. Food and small house damage that we experienced were all replaceable, and we left the experience feeling blessed.

No, this time we weren’t in the comfort of a hotel room. We didn’t get to do day trips to the beach or eat out at fun restaurants. But we did make sweet memories together and enjoyed the extra time that we had with Logan home from work.

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I really hope there is not a next time. But I can’t help but feel that hurricanes have been sweet to us. They brought us together in college, they took us on a fun beach trip together and they gave us a chance to reconnect as a family in our own walls.

Here’s to hoping we don’t ever need to decide again!

Trek Difficulty Level: (2): For our trip to Clearwater Beach for Hurricane Matthew, it definitely took longer than it would normally. This is one major downside to going vs. staying: traffic is absolutely terrible.

Trek Budget: $1000; this was another downside of going vs. staying — the cost. We stayed in a hotel for two nights, along with the cost of extra gas, excursions there and dining out.

3 Trek Must-Dos: {Changing this to…3 Hurricane Prep Must-Dos}:

  • Buy a portable charger for cell phones; we were not ready to commit to buying a generator before Hurricane Irma, so this came in handy big time: Portable charger
  • Download apps on your tablets that do not require Wi-fi before the storm; we had a few apps on their Kindle Fire Kids that lasted us through some meltdown moments without power
  • If you choose to stay, buy your kids a hurricane gift! We have never allowed our kids to buy something from a toy store unless it was a holiday, so Landon was so excited to pick out some new toys that he could open when the power went out! It turned a negative into a positive.

Landon’s Trek Tip: Pick the magic trick set for your hurricane gift 🙂


  1. William Siegle says:

    Nice article bringing together all your hurricane experiences.

    Sent from my iPhone



  2. Jane Siegle says:

    Interesting and well done.


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