Virginia Beach woman rides out Tropical Storm Elsa with family in Tampa

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Posted at 10:04 PM, Jul 07, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-07 23:22:16-04

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. – The sky was blue and the sun was shining outside Toni Tobias’ house in Tampa, Florida, several hours after Elsa made landfall just north of the major city.

The Virginia Beach native hunkered down at home with her two young kids, Tony, 5; and Toniah, 2; and her husband Tylando as the storm brought heavy winds and torrential rain.

“It was actually kind of heavy not too long ago,” Tobias said. “We’ll hear the thunderstorms and stuff like that, so they’ll get a little scared, but for the most part, we’re okay.”

Tobias’ dad, Tony Vaughn, has been in constant contact with his daughter and grandkids.

“Hey, kiddo,” said Vaughn during a video chat with his daughter. “What’s going on? How you guys holding up down there?”

Vaughn told News 3 he and his wife have been worried about their daughter and grandchildren as Elsa made landfall in Florida’s Gulf Coast.

“We check in with them every couple hours,” said Vaughn. “My wife is constantly FaceTiming the babies.”

Vaughn has been staying busy running Jon Smith Subs in Virginia Beach with his co-owner George McLaughlin to try and take his mind off Elsa as it inched closer toward Tampa, bringing along storm surge and a father’s concern for his daughter.

“My trust is always in the Lord that he's going to protect my babies, but we have to tell her, remind her sometimes that it’s pretty important,” said Vaughn. “Make sure you have everything you need. Make sure you guys have the house buckled down.”

Tobias took her dad’s advice and prepared for the worst ahead of the impending storm.

Related: Virginia Beach Public Works crews clear out drains, check pump stations ahead of Elsa's arrival

“We bought water enough water for all of us. We bought food just in case; even if the power goes off, batteries because my father is super big on batteries and flashlights,” Tobias laughed. “I made sure that I had enough because if one of his grandchildren tell him that I did not provide any lights, there was going to be a problem in my house.”

Tobias, who is currently serving in the Navy, has been stationed in Tampa for the last three years. She said when a hurricane threatens the area, she typically leaves the state to stay with family.

“I am a big scaredy cat,” Tobias laughed. “I have family in Georgia and as soon as people say hurricane, or anything like that, I’m the first person to disappear out of this state as much as I love it. As soon as my job says we can evacuate, I’m the first one. I’ve already packed my car and I’m already out.”

As Elsa makes its way up the East Coast, people in Hampton Roads and the Outer Banks are bracing for wind, rain and the risk of tornadoes.