First, let me say thank you so much for all of your prayers for those of us here on the East Coast of the United States a couple of weeks ago. Our family and home here in New Jersey weathered the storm without injury or property loss. This is quite amazing, and I would say miraculous, given that the eye of Hurricane Sandy passed directly over us.We are only about 80 miles from the shore, which has been the victim of unimaginable devastation, as you know.
We were well prepared for the storm. Our power tends to go out fairly often, even when other neighboring homes do not, so we assumed that we'd be without electricity for a week or more. On Saturday, my daughter's school made the call to cancel school for Monday and Tuesday, and my husband was also told not to come into work. We had the generator hooked up, moved everything we possibly could off of the basement floors, had plenty of bottled water and canned food and batteries for the flashlights. We kept our crucial devices plugged in all day so that we would have them fully charged when the power inevitably went out (who could live without their cell phones, lap tops, and iPads in this day and age?!?) And then on Monday, the day of the storm, we waited. The rain picked up, the winds howled. All local programming on the television was pre-empted by news coverage. We settled in with books and magazines, waiting for the power to cut out. By dinner time, we were sure the electric would go out at any moment, as the winds whipped fiercely and the rain poured down relentlessly. We ate dinner early, thinking that surely this was our last chance for a hot meal for the next several days! And we waited, and waited..... and went to bed with power still intact. Actually by bedtime, the winds died down to almost nothing- the eye of the storm passing over. Early in the morning, around 2 a.m. the winds picked up again. And then we awoke the next morning- to power in our home, and gray drizzly skies.
As I said, this was truly miraculous. My husband and I are no strangers to the devastation that a hurricane can cause. In 1989, when we were first married, we were living on the island of St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands where my husband worked for an oil company. The forecast for Hurricane Hugo was dire, and we were evacuated to a large metal warehouse on the company property, since getting off the island at that point would have been difficult or impossible. The hurricane made landfall on St. Croix on September 17 through the night till the 18th. That night was the most terrifying of my life.
We sat in the warehouse, as the storm raged outside. Sleep was impossible! The roof began to pull away from the building, but managed to stay in place. We had to move to different areas of the warehouse, as we would settle into one place and then it would start flooding. At one point, some men knocked out the wall between our warehouse and the adjoining fire station so we could get in there. More than once, we thought that the building might blow away, taking us with it. The storm had stalled over St. Croix, with winds reaching 140 miles per hour, pounding and beating away at the island for hours upon hours.
The next morning, after the hurricane had passed, the warehouse doors were opened, and the sky was a weird, eerie green color. We saw palm trees, sheared in half. We saw rows and rows of concrete foundations, where houses had used to stand- there was literally nothing left of the homes but the poured concrete foundations. Somehow, somehow, our house was spared. It sat snug against a little hill, which we believe protected it from the fierce winds. However, the back wall was caved in and roof separated from the house- and a washing machine (not ours), sat in the back yard. Apparently, the winds had hurled someone's washing machine into the back of our house. Our car, however, was totaled- all of the windows crushed in and it was full of debris from the storm.
Power was out on the island for over a month. There were riots at the gas stations. Store owners sat on their roof tops with machine guns, trying to keep looters away from their shops. After about 4 days the National Guard was sent in to get looting under control. When they were able to, about a week later, my husband's company sent in a plane with food for their employees and families.
So, yes- I know what hurricanes can do. To this day, I hate the wind. If there are strong winds outside, I put earplugs in my ears because I cannot shake the fear that something bad will happen, something will get destroyed. I have seen people lose everything.
And yet, going into this event, I was peaceful and calm. I actually surprised myself. It wasn't that I was ignorant or oblivious to the possible imminent destruction- on the contrary, I was quite aware of how deadly these storms can be. But we prepared, we prayed, and then we waited. In the past I would have made myself physically ill with worry. But I felt at peace that we would be cared for.
Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. Matthew 6:34
Perhaps this is something that comes with age and wisdom- faith that somehow, everything will be OK. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but eventually. And worrying does not lessen the chances of bad things happening. The best you can do is prepare and hope for the best.
I painted the little poster at the top of this post with a quote that I like by Corrie Ten Boom, a holocaust prison survivor. I have created a PDF version to share with you- you can print it out and hang it up if you would like. It is a good reminder, not just on difficult days, but every day.
Please continue to pray for the people of this area- so many have lost so much. My husband was able to go on Friday with a group of men from our church to help with the clean up.
If you would like to make a donation, you may do so at Samaritan's Purse (the organization which is doing a lot of relief work in the area and organized my husband's trip there). If you would like to make a donation directly to a local organization, you can click here.
Thank you again for your continued prayers- they are much needed and appreciated.