We are very grateful to everyone who dedicated themselves to praying for our family, our church and the whole Gulf Coast region regarding Hurricane Gustav. One thing that I tried to remind folks of during this time was that we should think carefully before praying that the storm would turn and not make landfall near New Orleans. Such a prayer seems to make sense until you realize that you’re praying for the storm to hit someone else.
Instead we prayed that God would protect those in the storm’s path – though we mourn the large loss of life in Haiti, we are thankful that loss of life in Cuba and then later in the US was minimal. We also prayed that the storm would weaken even though the forecasters were predicting it was going to do nothing but strengthen once it reached the Gulf of Mexico. If you followed the storm at all you’ll remember that instead of strengthening in the Gulf, Gustav picked up speed (moving around 17 miles/hour) and never had a chance to get back up to its powerful Category 4 level. Gustav made landfall as a Category 2 (still a dangerous storm but so much better for all of us) and not only that it skirted the coastline rather than moving directly inland, taking it toward less populated areas.
This storm was definitely damaging – many people are still waiting to have their power restored…Baton Rouge was hit much harder than anticipated. This link will take you to a slide show of storm images from our area. Here at Casa de Wells we received very little in the way of damage. Lots of small limbs in the yard (thank you Robert for coming down to help me clean!) and a larger limb crushed our already decrepit picnic table.
The church building did well – one tree down on our property (not even close to the building itself) and our sign blew over.
Life around here is slowly returning to normal. Most of the stores and gas stations have reopened, though hours are sketchy and selection is limited (Wal Mart finally got produce today and you’d have thought that the Emperor was throwing gold coins from a carriage).
Radio stations are slowly beginning to play music again; local television channels are showing sitcoms instead of satellite imagery. Schools are opening back up on Monday and most of our neighbors have come back from their various hibernation dens.
And then there was Ike.
We aren’t really talking about it much. I’m not sure if we don’t have the energy to think about it, we’re hoping that if we ignore it it’ll go away or if we just don’t want to get excited about it when there is still such a huge window of where this thing may go. But Rachel and the Wells Brothers came home today (another 10.5 hour wondertrip) and I’ve been thinking a lot about the possibility of evacuating these poor boys AGAIN in a few days.
I’ve been watching the weather channel A LOT over the last couple weeks and I think I’ve learned a good bit about hurricane tracking! I’m not too worried about Ike, the odds are probably greater that it won’t hit here. But it is still weighing heavily on my thoughts. I find myself thinking about and praying for the safety of Haiti and Cuba for the second time in about a week, which isn’t something I’ve specifically spent much time doing in the past…
I’m a bit nervous that people won’t evacuate if needed because Gustav didn’t live up to the hype…and I’m already preparing wonderfully convincing speeches to implore the more stubborn of our friends and neighbors. And to be totally honest I don’t really want to evacuate either – I hated being out of town wondering how those who stayed were doing. I’m a fixer (and sometimes a decider…Bushisms are wonderful aren’t they?) and I don’t like being in a position of “hide and watch”.
But if these storms teach us (or remind us of) nothing else it is that we are not nearly as much in control as we often like to think. I’m also remembering not to take “normal” for granted – it is easy to forget that we’ve already grown accustomed to the “new normal” after Katrina. Going shopping yesterday and not being able to get the exact brand of the exact specific unnecessary foodstuff reminded me how unbelievably abnormal our usual normal is. I got a 5 minute glimpse of what is “normal” for most people in the world.
So tomorrow (Lord willing) I’ll preach a sermon, we’ll meet with our small group (maybe…I haven’t heard any particular plans), we’ll read books, brush teeth and get brothers to bed on schedule (another HUGE maybe). Monday I’ll go to work as will lots of other people and if we’re all smart, we’ll remember to thank God for the gift of another day and remember that we are not gods…no matter what our routines and schedules would have us believe.