Parents finding cool, safe places for kids until power comes back in Tampa Bay

CLEARWATER, Fla. (WFLA) — Thousands of families are still trying to get back to their routine after Hurricane Irma, but it is nearly impossible with no lights, no air conditioning and no school.

In Clearwater, dozens of parents filled the Westfield Countryside Mall with their children and are doing their best to keep their kids safe, cool and entertained. Many found that there is no better way than the skating rink at the mall.

Logan Muhleisen, 7, says he’s been itching to get back to the mall skating rink since his routine was disrupted by Hurricane Irma.

“I am happy to be back because I can play with friends and practice tricks,” said Muhleisen. “I love skating.”

His skates are on, matching glasses and gloves, too. His mother Tina says she could not wait for her son to get back on the ice in the midst of a stressful week.

“When I heard the rink was open and the classes were on it was important to get back to it and back to his normal routine.”

Routine – it’s something this family hasn’t had in seven days and like so many, they share the stress of preparing for Irma, the stress during the storm and now the stress of cleaning debris.

“I’m at my wit’s end, I’m on a lot of stress, basically a week without sleep now, up every night,” said Tina Muheilsen.

She knows other families are in the same boat – or rink – at least today, waiting for the AC, the lights, and the school bell to ring.

Ella Shephard is another child waiting for her classes to resume.

“I didn’t know what to think when the hurricane rolled in because I’ve never been through a hurricane,” said Shepherd.

Shepherd says she hasn’t had wifi for four days and says sleeping in the heat is the worst for her.

“We can’t do these like we used to be doing,” said Shepherd. “I have to sleep with my covers off because it gets so hot.”

So her mother brought her here to Palm Harbor United Methodist church. They’ve opened their doors to the kids and families – a cool place for babies and adults too.

“Hopefully from here we can continue back to life as normal or as close as we can get,” said Tina Muhleisen.

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