Hurricane Irma…another hurricane that will not be forgotten in the state of Florida. For Mom, Dad, and Nana, this was not our first hurricane, but for my children, it was their very first experience to see and feel the heavy rain and wind that passed and hovered over us during our stay in Arcadia, Florida.
As Mom and Dad were watching the news, Adam and his sister, Naomi, had their eyes on their toys. There was no evacuation for us until in the middle of the day. Before the storm, we drove from Charlotte County to Arcadia to experience the feel and sound of it from a safer location. Our first comforting sight when we arrived at the Arcadia Seventh-day Adventist Church was the double rainbow in front of the church.
It did not rain the morning or afternoon that Saturday. The storm hit Florida on Sunday at 2 a.m. Twelve hours later it hit Lee County. Seven or eight hours later it hit Charlotte County, where my family lives. Four hours later Arcadia was hit.
It was the roughest 36 hours for all of us. We adults were trying to prepare for our comfort by selecting pews in which to rest; meanwhile, my son and daughter were finding comfort in each other by playing, jumping and crawling around, positioning their toys in the spot where they would sleep; and finally, together, we were singing “A Shelter in the Time of Storm” and “Psalm 40:8.”
We got the remaining bands of rain and the winds in gentler movements. It was the best way to take refuge in the worst part of the storm. We slept in the sanctuary of the church. We prayed. We got on each other’s nerves. Dad’s birthday was Saturday, but in the midst of it all, we did not get to sing “Happy Birthday” until that night, when a friend and his wife prepared a special dinner for him.
In my son’s eyes you could see a bit of excitement and urgency. He did well getting his toys and helping me gather a few pieces of clothes to put into the suitcase, but during the storm he struggled with being cooped up inside for hours and hours, not able to go outside to play.
There was a moment that my daughter was scared and told me so. So while the wind howled, the story of Noah and the Ark immediately came to mind. She lay on her back, and I lay on my stomach near her feet; we lay still on the pew in pure darkness, talking about how Jesus, in His great power from his Father, calmed the waters after 40 days and 40 nights. I also told her this storm wasn’t going to last as long as the one in Noah’s day, and that brought comfort to her. I prayed with her and shared with her Psalm 46:1, 2, which says, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore will not we fear, though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea….”
After it stopped I was hoping to see another rainbow, but God had already allowed us to see that double rainbow on Saturday, prior to the coming of Irma. What a beautiful sight that was to all of us who were able to see it. What also brought comfort to the children and me was the scripture verses, as well as what we were able to do for one of our neighbors.
This storm also helped us with learning to deal with little storms in our lives, and it gave us hope again to live for Jesus and God by becoming missionaries for them. So, thank you, Irma — and good-bye!