My First Hurricane

I remember my first hurricane pretty well. It was in about 1960 which would have made me fourteen years old. We had moved to Orlando from Greenville, SC in 1955 but had avoided any direct experience of major weather events until Hurricane Donna. Living inland, we were less effected than those on the coast, especially in this instance, southeast Florida which took most of the damage.

But I remember stocking up on water and food, battening down the hatches and waiting for the storm’s arrival. Even then, we knew the futility of putting masking tape on windows or even using plywood to board them up unless one knew exactly how to install them (which most people don’t). Years later, when my folks moved to Daytona Beach, they always had metal storm windows installed which stayed in place all year long and would simply be rolled down in the event of a storm, leaving the folks inside, as my mother put it, “snug as a bug in a rug.”

I do remember walking outside in our backyard when the eye of hurricane passed through Orlando. After the wind, rain and blowing debris, after the snapped branches and power lines, the eerie silence in “the eye of the storm” was mesmerizing. There are stories of people being so entranced by the experience that they stayed out too long in the eye and were hit by the backside of the storm as it continued on its path! Not too much danger of that for me, as my mother kept an eye on me and would not rest until I got back inside, well before the winds started picking up again.

As Hurricane Matthew storms up the east coast of Florida today, I’ve been in touch with friends and my dad, all of whom live in a straight line from Melbourne to Cocoa to Daytona Beach to Jacksonville. Other than power outages and a bit of water damage everyone seems safe and grateful that the storm stayed offshore for as far as it did. They are also experienced Floridians who take storm warnings seriously and make appropriate plans to stay safe in such instances.

Ironically, we had tornadic activity here in the Quad Cities, Iowa last night as well. We lost power for a while and there are reports this morning that our wonderful homeless shelter, King’s Harvest, took a direct hit and lost part of a roof. I’ll be taking a run down there later this morning to see how bad it is. Hopefully, our community will come together to help them re-build and, just as importantly, to be sure there are no lack of services in the interim for those who depend upon this facility and its dedicated staff and volunteers.

The power of nature regularly reminds us that, as much as we might like to believe so, we are not really in charge of this world, or even of our lives. It’s why we need to stand in awe of the creation and its Creator; and it’s why we need to take care of each other when these regular reminders show up!

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