After finishing the June 30 issue of our Wesley Chapel Neighborhood News on June 21, I was excited to head south to Marco Island for the weekend, where the Marriott Beach Resort awaited. My father was attending a job-related conference at the resort, so it just made sense to spend the weekend at the beach bar.

Enter Tropical Storm Debby. I had hoped to spend the weekend soaking up some rays, but instead ended up just getting soaked. However, despite the relentless rain and wind that made laying out on the beach an impossibility, Debby presented other unique opportunities, like gettinmg to be a “tornado chaser”— my childhood dream, even before the movie “Twister” made its way into theaters.

Back to the bar. So, I’m enjoying a nice Florida Avenue India Pale Ale (which is brewed right down the street from my house in central Tampa), talking to my family, when I decide to turn around on my stool and take a look at the beach. I end up doing a double take after I notice a large funnel cloud tearing up the water offshore. Unable to control my excitement, I took it upon myself to grab my camera phone and alert everyone else at the bar, no doubt contributing to a “storm” (see what I did there?) of pictures of the swirling waterspout being uploaded to Facebook, Instagram and every other social media site.

And the fun didn’t stop there. The next morning, I groggily awoke, squinting through the haze of an early-morning hangover, to find out that a tornado had, in fact, touched down on the outskirts of Marco and snapped some power lines, cutting off electricity to the entire island. The shops in the lobby were left to operate by glow sticks, as the limited generator power was only used to light the hallways and operate the elevators. Luckily for us, we were scheduled to check out before noon.

While my family only had to endure a short 45-minute drive back to Cape Coral, I had the good fortune of having to drive another hour-and-a-half back to Tampa for a Monday morning editorial meeting. And, luckily for me, the feeder bands of Debby moved up the west coast of Florida, right along the I-75 corridor, the exact route I had to drive to get back to town. But, here I am anyway, sitting at my desk in the New Tampa Neighborhood News office off Amberly Dr. in Tampa Palms, so despite a wet weekend and a miserable drive, I guess everything turned out okay. In fact, it turned the weekend into an adventure!

We want to hear your Debby story, too! Send us your experience in 500 words or less, plus any pertinent pictures and we’ll put them up on our website —! — MW

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