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Key West family sheltered in Boca eagerly awaits news

Posted at 12:35 AM, Sep 12, 2017
and last updated 2017-09-12 00:56:29-04

Since last Wednesday, mom Tara Popick, 11-year-old daughter Zoe Gehin, and their cat Leo has called the second floor of the Boca Raton Hilton off of Glades Road home.  They’re from Key West.

Dad, Francois Gehin, who's a musician, stayed behind in Key West. He wanted to help people. Their last contact was Sunday morning.

“He said it would be getting there at 5 a.m., so I woke up and called him. I called him at 7 a.m. and then at 8 a.m., I couldn't reach him,” Tara said in an interview of the lobby of the Hilton.

Initial reports from what little information they could get is their house is okay, and for now, are not worried about him.

“We're confident that he's safe and he can't find a landline to call us,” Tara said.

The hotel lost power over the weekend and as of Monday night, didn't have it back. They had a generator power, a small portion of the hotel. The air conditioning was among the things that didn't work anymore.

While they wait, Leo held his perch above a window.  "He's very cute and cuddly."

"People that need a phone charge huddle around a power strip in the lobby, and strangers become friends, Zoe said.

“These very nice people invited us to their house, gave us lunch and we went to laundry at their house,” Tara said

The hotel still served three meals a day.

"They're home away from home, they're out of their element and you're part of the community so you want to welcome them in,” said hotel general manager, Alan Cristantiello.

Once the road opens, they'll head home. But they could be back soon.

"We're looking at Hurricane Jose now,” Zoe said.