Few things are as unnerving as an approaching hurricane. When we saw the satellite photo of a swirling buzz saw bigger than our entire state heading directly for us, we couldn’t help but feel a growing sense of urgency. My heart screamed, ‘RUN!’ My mind said, ‘Stay. It won’t be as bad as they say.’
‘Stay calm’ I told myself, as the frantic newscasters built a doomsday scenario, minute-by-minute, for days ahead of the storm.
“Stay calm,” they told us, as they showed pictures of empty grocery shelves and cars lined up for miles at the gas pumps.
“Stay calm,” they said, while announcing evacuation orders, one after the other, during the perfect days before the storm, when people were still heading to the beach.
The TV stayed tuned to the Weather Channel, and when we flipped stations to get anything other than hurricane news, all the other stations broadcast nothing but incessant talk about the hurricane. Don’t get me wrong. It’s a good thing. Those folks at the local stations live here with their families. They care. They do an amazing job.
We didn’t leave, and when it hit, we had my almost 96 year-old mother-in-law with us, along with my sister and adopted sister from the part of the state that was hunkered down for a direct hit, where Category 5 winds and a fifteen-foot storm surge were expected. Our family still in Naples were in secure buildings, in professional care. We prayed and worried, but knew they would be better off there.
A hurricane is like a roller coaster. The ride to the top is pure anticipation. In my case, I repeatedly tell myself, “You idiot! What were you thinking?” And then there’s the pause at the top of a mile-long vertical drop. At that point, I know I’m committed, and it’s time to relax and enjoy the ride.
My sister brought her adorable little dog who, naturally, had to go outside — storm or no storm. That’s when I realized once again that palm trees are made to dance in impossibly strong winds, and little dogs will not pee in them. I, however, enjoyed being out in it, if only for a few minutes, dancing with the palms.
We survived with only the loss of my beloved ficus tree. It was cut back to the nub, the sound of killer chainsaws grating on my nerves. It will grow again.
I grieve the islands and the Florida keys, wondering how they will ever come back from this devastation. Yet, come back, they will. Like my ficus, the life is there, the strength is there, and in the sun and tropical breezes, we’ll watch it grow and do what we can to help. Texas will recover from Harvey. The Caribbean will recover from Irma. Where there is life, there is hope, and God is with us all.