So this week has truly been a hurricane event as we in Florida welcome an unwanted guest by the name of Irma. Already on Monday, a week prior to the actual storm, the gas stations were lined with cars waiting their turn; containers of all sizes of water flew off the grocery store shelves; plywood started showing up on the windows in the neighborhood and last but certainly not least, people fled the area for safer locations to wait out the storm. Whew! So many people evacuated that gas stations couldn’t keep up with the demand so the hunt for gas was on. Hotels were booked all the way to Nashville by midweek. Traffic was a nightmare all week long as people tried to escape. The governor closed the entire school system on Thursday. My church closed on Wednesday night to allow for the staff to take care of their plans for evacuation. As I said before, it has been an eventful week!
What should we do now? Evacuate? Go to a shelter? These questions hang in your mind every single minute of every day. No one wants to be hurt or killed by a storm but these decisions are harder to make in any circumstance. It is not as easy as it sounds to evacuate as we live for days with the unknown. Hearing people say over and over and over again the lives are more important than stuff is a no-brainer to me. Of course it is! Everyone should be sheltered in a safe place not only for their safety but also for the sake of the rescue and emergency response teams in the area. Their lives are affected too. Mandatory evacuations in our area started on Friday at 6 am despite the fact that the sun was shining and there was not a breeze to be felt. Again the mantra starts; do I stay? Do I go? Is the 6th floor of my condo high enough to avoid debris or the storm surge? The neighbors and I discuss our options and together we have a plan to meet in the concrete stairwells if necessary. A couple of my neighbors help me fortify my patio glass door. Bless their hearts! We have collected water and are braced with food, snacks as we anticipate losing electricity and cell service. We have developed a community of care for each other.
In the wake of Harvey and now in the face of Irma, I have heard several sermons and meditations about Jesus quieting the storm with a “Peace! Be still!” found in the gospels, which have ended with our trust that God has our backs regardless of what happens. Sunday morning, during my last walk before the storm, I looked down and saw a silver cross lying on the sidewalk. When I picked it up I saw the words, “God Loves You,” inscribed on it. These words came at just the right time and were a good reminder for me to trust that God is in the mix and will remain faithful to me always. I have prepared for Irma and in spite of all the reports on TV, I can rest in God’s love for me. Jesus said in Matt. 28: 20, “And remember, I am with you always to the end of the age.” That is a promise that I will cling too through this storm and many more to come. With my fingers rubbing the cross in my pocket, I need to go check my water supply…