Tuesday, September 12, 2023

Stormy Winds

The events of this date in 1979 are etched on my memory and emotions.  

 Glen and I had only been married nine months and had no television then.  While I worked the night before I first heard of the Category 4 hurricane heading for Mobile, Alabama.  Hurricane Frederic.  I will never forget that name.  

Leaving work that morning, I headed east toward our tiny apartment.  The sun was just coming up and the sky was bright red.  Immediately, I thought of the poem, 

"Red sky at morning, sailor take warning.  Red sky at night, sailor's delight."  

I am sure I had heard this from my father who had worked at sea since he was 14.  But it is also in Scripture: 

 "He answered and said unto them, 'When it is evening, ye say, it will be fair weather for the sky is red.  And in the morning, it will be foul weather today: for the sky is red and lowring," (Matthew 16:2,3)

When I arrived home I told Glen about the hurricane.  Both of us, living apart from our parents for the first time, knew little of hurricane preparedness as we do now.  Glen, still in college, went off to his classes and I laid down for a nap.  When he came home we did what little we could do to prepare in our tiny apartment. (It was actually the back  rooms of a house and about 400 square feet.)  We put things that were most special to us up high, had dinner, and went to stay with family to weather out the storm.

Before that night, I had always enjoyed the sound of the wind.  But this wind was different. It was a relentless, howling, screeching sound.  The darkness compounded the frightening aspect of the wind, as it is the usual practice for the power company to turn off power so downed power lines did not cause fires or danger to anyone encountering them.

We had a small battery radio and listened to the newscasters during the storm.  They were reporting that common landmarks near us "no longer existed."  One of these was about a half mile from my parent's house where we were.  I felt certain we were going to die.  I'm pretty sure I wasn't the only one praying a lot that night.

But morning came and the storm had gone.  Trees were down everywhere.  The apartment building behind my parent's house lost part of its tar and pebble roof in the storm.  All the windshields on our cars looked like they had been in machine-gun fire.  The eastern-facing windows of my parent's home fared the same.

We walked to our apartment and it was as if the storm had totally passed that house by.  Nothing was moved, nothing out of place.  Then we walked to the church where Glen and my mother worked,  Along the way we passed multiple huge old oak trees upended, and houses crushed under fallen trees.  All the tall pine trees on a lot near my parent's house were broken in half like matchsticks.  The devastation was everywhere.

Then the community came together.  Everyone with freezers began cooking the food they had stored and sharing it with their neighbors.  Those with chainsaws, and the skill to use them, cut trees off the properties of others.  Trucks of ice and water came from other areas of the country, from people who could not be thanked because we did not know who they were.

The most welcomed sight was the orange trucks of the tree companies who came from every direction to help remove the massive downed oaks and the white trucks of power companies from other states who came to restore our power.  Two weeks after Frederic hit, we were outside with our neighbors when the power came on - thanks to these wonderful people- and we all clapped and cheered.  

Eventually, fallen trees were removed, windshields replaced, and homes rebuilt.  The important thing was we did not die.  

And I learned a great lesson.  God takes care of His children.  He may lead us to go through some difficult things and to walk some very hard paths, but we will not walk alone.  He will be with us every step of the way giving us guidance, strength, comfort, encouragement, and mostly, His love.

"The LORD is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; 
my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; 
my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower."
Psalm 18:2

"For thou hast been a shelter for me, 
and a strong tower from the enemy."
Psalm 61:3

"Fire, and hail; snow, and vapour; 
stormy wind fulfilling His word,"
Psalm 148:8

No comments: