Highland Oaks Middle serves as shelter during Irma: My Story


Tiffany Schram

Highland oaks Middle School was home to many residents of Miami-Dade County. This is just one of many halls filled with families staying safe during Irma.

From people in designer clothes to people with barely anything at all, they all had one thing in common: staying in Highland Oaks Middle School as a safe haven during Hurricane Irma.

Highland Oaks Middle school is one of the few pet-friendly shelters in Miami-Dade. With hundreds of thousands of citizens running for the shelters and safe havens there was not much calm before the storm, especially for HOM.

As school was called out on Thursday September 7, HOM was already preparing to shelter those in need. Janitors, security, and cafeteria staff helped keep the shelter clean, safe, and healthy for the dangerous weekend.

As Friday evening approached the Red Cross, a disaster relief organization, had still not shown up. The national guard was then called in to service the needs of the shelter. According to authorities in Miami-Dade county, about 40 shelters, mostly schools, were run by a combination of Red Cross and National Guards personnel.

I was was the last one in and the last one out. After helping my dad put up the rest of the shutters before the storm hit, we drove down the street to the middle school I once attended. It was a strange vibe walking into the building, knowing I would have to be living with over a hundred strangers for a few days. However, as the hours passed and the storm made its way through, my family and I made the best of it.

I met some very interesting people in my stay at HOM. The most memorable one was a young homeless man, Philip Greener. Growing up in a small town in Illinois, Greener wanted more in life than to be just another average midwestern. Greener wanted to go to the beach, and what better place than the Sunshine State.

Greener hitchhiked Florida and rode the bus. He now lives on a beach in Hallandale and writes books for a living. I bought one of his cardboard covered books called’ “Simple.” He explained to me that it is dedicated to poor people.

“It’s a guide for people with little or no money to live a good life. There’s ways around a price tag to enjoy life,” Greener said.