Hurricane Irma brought devastation to millions of people throughout the Caribbean and the Southeast, specifically Florida. As a native Floridian, the past week was difficult for me to watch as my friends and family braced for Irma’s impact. However, as difficult as it was, I couldn’t take my eyes of the continuous television broadcasts or social media. What was an absolutely gorgeous weekend here in the DMV, all I could think about were my loved one’s hunkering down in Florida.

Thankfully, those friends and family are safe and suffered relatively minor damage. Seeing the videos and photos of devastation in the Caribbean as well as the Florida Keys, I know it could have been much, much worse.

Over the weekend, as Irma shifted westward, the eye of the storm was projected to go right over my beloved hometown of St. Petersburg. My friends and family boarded up and moved to higher ground. While I should have been enjoying the first NFL Sunday, I just couldn’t stop checking my phone. I went to bed Sunday night, not knowing what news I would wake up to Monday morning. I’m exhausted mentally from the worry, I can’t even imagine how those are feeling whose homes were located in the cone of uncertainty.

Monday morning, I spoke with my dear friend, Shannon Ford, to get her first hand perspective on what it was like riding out Hurricane Irma. Shannon is a South Florida Native, and still lives down there. She’s been through hurricane Andrew but says the anxiety level was so different this time around. She was 16 then, and of course, don’t we all feel invincible around that age? This time, she hunkered down in her Pembroke Pines home with her dog and 21-month old son, Rider. After 24 hours inside, as you will see in the video conversation, ‘Hurricane Rider’ got a little cabin fever!

Shannon’s husband, Ray, is a Miami Dade police officer, who worked 34 hours straight in the area around Miami International Airport, and then helping direct traffic through the night on streets with no power.

While the people I know are safe and sound, some others weren’t so lucky. Business destroyed, and home damaged. Please continue to keep everyone in the Sunshine State in your thoughts and prayers as they begin to rebuild and regroup. The Sunshine State needs a little sunshine right now.