There are storms brewing tonight.
They roll in from the east, and as my younger son swims in the community pool, I eye the sky. But only to look out for flashes of lightning far off, or catch the fading rumble of thunder.
A week ago?
A week ago, Irma was knocking at Florida’s door, unwelcome and angry. Indecisive.
An enormous mass of swirling clouds, rain, and deadly wind tore across the Atlantic, pummeled the Caribbean Islands and Puerto Rico, bounced off Cuba, then plowed up into the Florida Keys. Originally forecast to slide up the east coast of Florida, Irma continued inching west, west, west.
Toward us, us, us.
A week ago, my parents, grandparents, and my sister and her family gathered in our house to hunker down. They all live in southwest Florida, so our home was a safer location.
This is what ‘hunkering down’ feels like, FYI.
A bit claustrophobic.
Many further north urged Floridians to leave.
“Evacuate!” They screamed.
We understood. We too, were shocked at the flooding and destruction caused by Hurricane Harvey a dozen days before in Texas. Energized meteorologists conveyed their amazement as the powerful storm maintained her category five status for days.
The tension and fear smothering the Sunshine State was palpable.
But logistically it was impossible for everyone to leave. We don’t live in a flood zone, so my engineer husband carefully boarded up our house and secured our yard, then cut plywood to board up our neighbor’s house–wide-eyed Chicagoans who had moved to Florida a few weeks prior.
The afternoon before the storm hit, my sister and I took our boys out one more time to expel energy. As the storm approached the Keys–several hours south of where we live–the sky was already bloated with Irma’s clouds.
Irma closed in.
Family and friends across the country prayed for a downgrade. A category three or less storm is “doable,” as in, concrete homes generally remain intact under those storm conditions. Irma was a four just as she hit the Keys, a daunting number to Floridians with memories of Andrew.
Even Mango watched the Weather Channel, wondering if he should fly the coop before the storm hit.
The night Irma hit, sleep was an enemy. We all needed it desperately, but couldn’t allow ourselves to give into it. The angry, whipping wind and constant smatter of rain was a potent distraction. By 7:30pm we lost power, and the house was draped with candle light and filled with weary family.
Some of us slept peacefully. Okay, one of us.
But for the rest of us, how could we sleep with this coming?
But God is merciful, and He calms the storm.
Even the meteorologists were speechless at how quickly Irma broke apart and downgraded once she hit southwest Florida and began moving up the peninsula.
Monday morning we awoke and hesitantly opened the front door. Leaves scattered everywhere and palm and oak branches littered yards, but our house was intact and our friends south of us safe, too.
I can’t describe what an enormous relief it was to have Irma gone.
Thankfully we only lost power for twelve hours. But power still remains out for some in southwest Florida–please keep them in prayer as Florida recovers from this never-ending storm.
We’re grateful for God’s mercy, protection, and for all the prayers for our state and people.
“For the Lord is good; His mercy is everlasting, and His truth endures to all generations.” (Psalm 100:5)