As Hurricane Irma roars toward south Florida, first base coach Jeff Smith’s wife and two sons have moved into a shelter in Naples, Fla. But that’s because Ronna Smith is in charge of the shelter, as principal of Corkscrew Middle School.
“We talked about what to do every day we were in Tampa this week, and we felt the right thing to do is to stay at the shelter. It’s a safe building,” Smith said. “Some nice friends boarded up our house [Thursday], and so Friday morning, she’ll open the [school] building for residents seeking refuge, and the family [including sons Cooper, 15, and Cutter, 10] will just hunker down there.”
Smith is one of many Twins players and employees affected by the hurricane. The team shut down its Fort Myers, Fla., headquarters Thursday, and hired buses to take the entire Class A Miracle team, eliminated Wednesday from the now-canceled Florida State League playoffs, to Atlanta to catch flights home. Any players headed to the Caribbean will be housed in Atlanta until they can get home, said General Manager Thad Levine.
The Twins’ Dominican complex, though, was used as a shelter as the storm passed the island Thursday, since several players, most of them Venezuelans, could not get flights. The Twins also offered to house any Dominican players who feel safer at the complex — which was designed to withstand hurricanes — and their families on the site.
“We extended the offer to players and all staff members in the country — if you feel more safe coming to the complex, we’re opening our doors. We have food and provisions there, and we’ve communicated that to everyone there,” Levine said.