“Takes your mind off it:” Packers’ block party the perfect distraction for those worried about Irma

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SHOREWOOD -- A Green Bay Packers' party helped some cope as Hurricane Irma made landfall in Florida Sunday, September 10th.

Sunday marked the Packers' regular-season opener, and for many, cheering on the green and gold served as a perfect distraction to what was a very stressful week.

Crowds gathered for the Packers' block party in Shorewood -- hundreds of miles away from the force of Hurricane Irma. The 400-mile-wide (640-kilometer-wide) storm blew ashore in the morning in the mostly cleared-out Florida Keys, then began a slow march up the state's west coast, its punishing winds extending clear across to Miami and West Palm Beach on the Atlantic side.

Packers block party in Shorewood

Irma was expected to hit the heavily populated Tampa-St. Petersburg area early Monday, though in a much-weakened state. While it arrived in Florida a Category 4 hurricane, by nightfall it was down to a Category 2 with winds of 105 mph (177 kph).

Among the waves of green and gold in Shorewood Sunday were those thinking of loved ones in Irma's path.

Hurricane Irma

Hurricane Irma

"We're keeping an eye on the Packers and keeping an eye on the storm," John Hall said.

John Hall

Hall said his parents chose to ride out the storm.

"We're worried about them. I've talked to them a couple times today," Hall said.

On Sunday, he showed support for Florida by mixing a Gators' hat with his Packers' attire as he waited for news from his family.

Among the crowd in Shorewood, FOX6 News found Joseph Aiello, who lives in Naples, Florida -- where Irma's eye hit during the game.

"We had this flight booked two months in advance before the hurricane even showed up," Aiello said.

Packers block party in Shorewood

Aiello said it's been stressful not knowing what condition his home will be in when he returns.

"We have no idea what we are going home to. We're scared. We don't know what's going to come," Aiello said.

He said seeing his team win vs. the Seattle Seahawks at Lambeau proved to be the perfect distraction.

Hurricane Irma

Joseph Aiello

"It takes your mind off of it a little bit. Every time I turn on the TV I see it and it all comes flooding back," Aiello said.

Aiello said despite his stress and worry, he was grateful to have the most important things in life with him as he waits out this storm.

"We brought our dog. We have each other. Materialistic things you can replace," Aiello said.

The Aiello family was supposed to go home next week, but as of Sunday, they weren't sure when they'd be able to return.