Hurricane victims living in hotel share Thanksgiving together

Posted at 6:10 PM, Nov 23, 2017
and last updated 2017-11-23 18:10:16-05

They say home is where you make it and for more than 100 families, it's the Clarion Inn hotel on Adamo Drive in Tampa. Inside the ballroom memories are being made.

"We all understand that someone has it worse than us," said Narick Williams.

Williams is an electrician - flooding from Hurricane Irma washed away his livelihood - the tools he uses everyday were water logged and ruined.

"It’s been a struggle not knowing how I’m going to do the next project," he said, adding his customers have been very understanding. He's also a single father, his son Karter is his heart. He has 4 other kids, 3 are in college, the 4th is 9. 

"Their spirits are really high and it’s great to see that, they are an inspiration to everyone," said Noelle Mandish, the general manager at the hotel.

She says at this point, everyone is on a first name basis - strangers from near and far, like Puerto Rico sharing a sense of normalcy together on Thanksgiving.

"It was really scary, we had to lock down all the doors and windows," said Laura Jimenez, whose family left Puerto Rico shortly after Hurricane Maria hit the island. She says necessities were few and far between - ice was considered gold.

It's why they came here to be near relatives but she says the experience is making her family stronger.

"Not everything is destroyed, our pride is better than ever," she said.

Many of these families have kids which is why the hotel is doing a "adopt an angel" drive. The kids are making ornaments to hang on the angel tree - if you want to help, stop by the Hotel at 9331 E. Adamo Dr Tampa 33619 and sponsor a child by dropping off gifts for them this holiday season. They will be accepting gifts until December 22.