Stratford student worries for her Florida-based family

Photo by NOAA National Weather Service National Hurricane Center

AS a weakened yet still dangerous Hurricane Irma has moved inland, to Tampa, in Florida, an American Shakespeare Institute student, living in Stratford, has expressed concern for the safety of her family and friends.

Diane Lowland, from Connecticut, arrived in Stratford ten days ago, ahead of her course at The Shakespeare Institute, starting on 25th September.

Not having a television in her Stratford town centre flat, Diane has been relying solely on social media, email and phone calls to her family, back in the United States, to check that they are safe and well as the tropical storm moves over Florida.

Irma hit Florida on Sunday as a Category 4 hurricane, bringing roof-ripping winds, floodwaters, as well as widespread power cuts.

Diane said: “As far as I know, my family are making themselves safe. I have one cousin in Plantation, who has a son in Orlando. I have another cousin is in Tampa, right by it all, but I haven’t heard from her yet. I have another cousin who evacuated from West Palm to Delaware.

“I have so many friends who are just hunkered down waiting for it to pass. With my home in Connecticut, I remember when Cindy hit in 2005, it felt like we were Dorothy and thought the house was going to take off.

“I cannot imagine what this is like though, this is three or four times worse. It’s hard to communicate with friends and family when homes and businesses are being left without power.”

Her 24-year-old son lives in Nashville, and Diane said it is likely he will feel some effect of Hurricane Irma.

Diane added: “Being here in Stratford is very odd, as people that I know and love are back home. If I was back home I would be watching it on the 24-hour news feed, but I don’t have a television. I also have half a dozen childhood friends who are mostly in West Palm and Plantation, and I am regularly checking their Facebook statuses.”

Do you know anyone affected by Hurricane Irma – or has it scuppered your holiday plans?, Contact the Herald newsroom by emailing