CLEARWATER, Fla. - One of the many powerful images coming out of Florida as Hurricane Irma passed through the state was a police officer giving his 7-year-old daughter a kiss before heading out into the chaos of the storm.
In a photo posted by the Clearwater Police Department on Facebook, Officer Seth Stiers was seen kissing his daughter Lola on the forehead as he headed off for duty. The photo was taken by Stiers’ wife, who stayed home with their three children.
“A lot of times we wind up saying goodbye to our families and we don't know if we're coming home,” said Officer Stiers. “That day in particular with all the news and potential devastation, not only did I not know if I was coming back, but I specifically didn't know when I was coming back and how many days I would be gone.”
“When I saw the photo that was shared by the officer's wife, I knew it was one of those iconic moments that just had to be shared on a wider platform,” said Clearwater Police Officer Rob Shaw. “We have more than 230 officers that every day of their lives are saying goodbye to their families and not knowing what fate they might have or when or if they are even coming back, and I just wanted to let the community see that touching moment and that insight into the selfless dedication these men and women have.”
Officer Stiers said he was assigned with another officer to patrol a shelter for special needs residents that needed 24-hour care.
“The storm itself was very scary and overwhelming,” he said. “I was afraid the whole time thinking about my wife at home with our three children, and I am very proud of her and the strength that she had going through that by herself.”
Thankfully, Clearwater was able to get through the hurricane without any catastrophic damage.
“We have a lot of downed trees, we have a lot of power lines down, a lot of our residents are still without power and are trying to cope with being at home for several days now without power,” said Officer Shaw. “But overall, we were very fortunate to have as little major damage as we did and we are basically just trying to do the cleanup mode and get Clearwater back to what it is used to being every day.”