Sunday morning, August 29, the storm really was coming; not a direct hit but worse than we wanted it to be. Just as we thought we really should leave, the mayor makes the announcement that “if you are gone, stay away; if you are still here, do not leave your house.” Thus we stayed. About 1:00 PM or so, we were watching TV to get the latest updates, and then we weren’t. All power went out and stayed out for four days.
The curses? No air conditioning with a heat index sometimes around 108 degrees; charging the phones in the car and hoping there was enough gas; seeing lines for a good mile around the one gas station that could open; lines, lines and more lines, at the few grocery stores and the ice machine stores open; cleaning out refrigerators and freezers into garbage bags which then sat for almost three weeks before any trucks came into the neighborhood to take them away, and in some areas still have not been picked up at all; seeing the debris, not just tree limbs and roof shingles but refrigerators and furniture.
The blessings? Being with people who cared and wanted all of us to be safe; wandering around the neighborhood to check on neighbors who did not evacuate; receiving a phone call from the 97 year old matriarch in the neighborhood who had evacuated with her daughter and just wanted to check on us; having a car with gas in it so the phones could be charged; being physically able to stand in lines to wait for grocery stores to open and enjoy the air conditioned interior while shopping; waiting in lines for boxes of food that we would deliver to the neighbors still here.
In the midst of it all, we all felt the hand of God each time some church or organization was able to reach out in any way with food or gift cards or donations of cleaning items. But we also felt the hand of God in the mere fact that we saw each other and could share stories and know that we were so blessed! Did not see an actual rainbow in the sky, didn’t have to. They were all around us.