As the gale’s howled and thunder rumbled, torrential rains inundated where fears were so fragile. You laid in bed worrying, wondering, and praying as God was the only one who would hear. Awake, the tears streamed. Feeling helpless, you wondered what the morning would bring. Looking at the clock – no electricity! The world had stopped and Satan reigned. A peaceful night’s sleep had turned into a hell you couldn’t imagine. The night was darker as the pressure closed in…
Preparing for another enjoyable day of work and a sunset cruise on the lake later tonight, I was unaware that a few hundred miles away Satan had unleashed his fury. Cursed, a city can’t get out of the way as nature steers a direct hit. Sympathetic, I listened to the news as a tear comes but there’s nothing I can do.
The phone rang. I answered, “Hey Sam….”
He responded, “Pack your bags! We are heading out in an hour.” My first thought, oh God protect us!
By sundown we were the first to arrive on the scene. Now a deserted city, only the traffic lights work. We found a hotel on the outskirts of town where the first floor is flooded. The second floor is bearable; it has water but no electricity. Too dangerous to venture out in the dark, we are bedding down early not knowing what tomorrow will bring.
At daybreak, we knew it was the DMZ all over again. Firstly, and before breakfast, I walk into a hotel. The skylight on the twelfth floor is destroyed; windows in the lobby – gone! Walking on broken glass, there is nothing left worth saving. Staring at the walls, the wallpaper is peeled off by the gales and glass. Walking down the halls, all the offices show how high the waters were recently. Four feet up all the sheetrock and insulation is to be removed by our crews….
House calls, normally illegal…. this is life and death now. Breaking and entering, we look to see if anyone stayed behind. The stench unbearable, perishables ruined, all the memories of livelihood gone in a wrath. Antiques destroyed, soggy scrapbooks scattered on the floor and bookcases are turned over. Just nothing salvageable! Even the toilets are reversed – disgusting. Now, to the next house. It’s pretty depressing after eight hours.
Drained, my disposition is uncomfortable. Not assured of anything, I just want to go home. Knowing it’s not just a race but a race against time, obligations prevail. Innocent victims, who never invited Satan’s hell, needs me…I’m off! Kicking in front doors, wading in water, pushing floating furniture out of my way, we feel for bodies submerged beneath our boots. Alone, we pray to God everyone is okay.
The tide is turning; some electricity, finally! It’s spotty though. Dryer roads, blue sky, and there is a God, I think to myself. Helping strained folks that can only afford a smile, “just sufficient” is enough to make our day worthwhile. People begging for water, I emptied my cooler in the first hour.
God knows, it takes a catastrophe to bring people together. Though it’s the most deplorable of conditions, it does bring out the colors of some. Humanity and integrity equals dignity for your fellow man, no matter your race.
After arriving home where normal was real, I prayed for those who will never find their normal they lost again. I hugged my family and reminded them to never take life for granted. Be humble of what God has blessed you with every day…..
God bless all victims of Hurricanes Irma, Harvey, and Maria!
I was there….2008, after Hurricane Ike. It’s an image that instills forever.
A memory of helplessness…. a war against the elements.
A loss just immeasurable…..