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Bucs: Happy to be home after Irma hits Tampa

From ESPN - September 13, 2017

TAMPA, Fla. - The Tampa Bay Buccaneers were back in their building Wednesday, practicing for the first time since Hurricane Irma made landfall in Florida and brought hurricane-force winds and flooding to nearly the entire state.

Players admitted to getting a real scare out of the whole ordeal. Many had never been through a hurricane before. Irma's projected path shifted last week from Florida's Atlantic coast to its west coast. Had the storm not been weakened traveling over Cuba, battered the Florida Keys, made a second landfall at Marco Island or veered east toward Polk County as it traveled up the state, it could have been far worse.

The storm was a Category 2 by the time it hit the Tampa Bay area, with minimal damage to the majority of homes. Most of the destruction came in the form of fallen trees, twisted street signs and tattered storefronts. Some streets are inaccessible because of debris, and traffic signals in many places still do not work.

"We were staying on our phones looking at the radar the whole time," said wide receiver Adam Humphries who, along with tight end Cameron Brate and quarterback Ryan Griffin, went up to Clemson, South Carolina. They attended the Clemson-Auburn game and stayed at a place Humphries owns up there.

"The whole time we were checking on Tampa and seeing how everything down here was doing," Humphries said. "It was good to see that we did not get hit as hard as we thought. The only really thing here is the power outages around. Obviously we were fortunate to get what we ended up getting."

Defensive end Ryan Russell had never been through a hurricane before and feared for his family's safety.

"I had my grandad with me so that was my biggest concern," Russell said. "He's 94. He ca not really move around too well. His memory is pretty good but he still gets confused sometimes. ... So I was more scared for my grandad than I was for my house or my possessions or anything."

They had originally planned to ride out the storm together in Tampa. Then he got a phone call Saturday. The Glazer family, who own the Bucs, managed to secure four charter planes for players and their families and were headed to Charlotte, North Carolina.

They left that afternoon, just hours before Tampa International Airport shut down at 8 p.m.

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