I just read my wife's blog and thought I would put my thoughts down on paper as well. It was actually suggested by one of the guys from church that spent the night with us at the church last night. I believe that he is right. We should record our thoughts, now, in the moment, because 6 months from now, we won't remember how we feel.
So my Ramblings are as follows:
My dad was right (he'll LOVE me putting that in writing), I didn't take this storm serious enough and I had no idea that I wasn't prepared.
Looking back, I'm not sure I could have been prepared until I went through it once. Perhaps, it was the near-miss of Rita that left me somewhat apathetic. I never have been the type of person to get excited when there's bad weather. I grew up in Tornado Alley and we practiced tornado drills in school where we would line up in the halls, hunched over, with our hands over our heads facing the wall. I think thunder storms are cool and LOVE, LOVE, LOVE to sleep through rain.
Yes, I knew there was a hurricane coming. Yes, if I had lived on Galveston Island, I WOULD HAVE LEFT ON WEDNESDAY 3 FULL DAYS AHEAD OF LANDFALL. Yes, I THINK PEOPLE WERE COMPLETELY IDIOTIC TO NOT HAVE LEFT! But I live 45 miles from the coast. How bad could it be? Right?
I was wrong, Dad was right. (there, I've said it twice, Dad.)
I am very glad that we left. I would have been fine hunkering down in our house. But Beth was nervous and wanted to leave. Our neighbors talk about how the wind was HOWLING; SCREAMING; Siren-like. I'm sure that would have freaked even me out, the guy who wasn't nervous. Beth probably would have divorced me. OK, I'm kidding, almost.
The other reason that I didn't worry too much was I had no idea what it means to lose power. Sure, we've all been without power for a few hours when a bad storm rolls in or when a car hits the electrical pole. But the house stays cool, the food doesn't spoil, and you can check your email that night before you go to bed.
After this weekend, I understand what it is like to not have power for DAYS. We lost power about 3:30 a.m. Saturday a.m. September 13th. It's now 4:00 p.m., 60 hours later, and I still don't have a home with power. Yes, I slept at the church last night on an air mattress in the a/c, but my home is without power. The food in the fridge was spoiled 24 hours ago and thrown away. I can't wash clothes, cook a meal, watch tv OR check my email (he says with sarcasm).
After fleeing the storm and spending a mostly sleepless night in an apartment with no a/c that was literally suffocating, I can home, unpacked, packed again, and spent another night away from my home against my wishes. This is not vacation. It's not taking a trip and being glad to be home. It's forced evacuation. There is angst, separation, and the anxiety of uncertainty lingering in the air. There's a sense of sadness and the realization that you're never going to be quite the same again. And I've basically lost nothing. Believe me, I am very much aware that there are MANY people who have suffered and who will suffer far more than me. My cousin, JNM, who's not really my cousin (his grandmother and my grandmother were sisters) has (maybe had) a house on the west end of the island. He can't even get there to see if anything's left. I don't even pretend to imagine what he or the others of Galveston Island et al. will endure in the coming weeks and months as they pick up the pieces and try to move on with their lives.
It's like we all felt post 9/11/2001, or how you feel after someone close to you dies. You're never the same. You have to learn to live in the new reality. The reality of a parent being gone, or a nation and it's citizens attacked. It's why the motto for 9/11 is "Never Forget." Someone much wiser than me once said, "Those who forget the past are condemned to repeat it."
So that's how I feel now. I am learning to live in this new reality. The new reality of having lived through a Category 2 (almost 3) Hurricane that has done millions of dollars worth of damage. My dad and his wife came to visit recently. We went to the Kemah Boardwalk for sea food. Kemah is gone. The restaurants are shells of buildings. The ferris wheel and Merry-Go-Round will have to be completely replaced. Kemah last year was the 6th most visited place in Texas. It will be months, perhaps YEARS, before people can enjoy it again. There is hardly a fence left standing in my neighborhood and most of the cities south of Houston proper. How we managed to escape with only one section coming apart (and I think we can simply nail it back together) is beyond me. Yesterday, we threw away at least $100, maybe more, of food. We almost couldn't get to our house yesterday because the streets were flooded and there are so much debris on the roads that it made them unsafe to travel.
Another bad thing about hurricanes is the anticipation of impending doom. With a tornado, you have 5, maybe 10 minutes warning. We were able to "get ready" for Ike for DAYS, almost one full WEEK. So your mind plays games on you. You get anxious. "Do I stay or do I go." And we all know that the media LOVES a story!!! It's ALL THEY HAVE TALKED ABOUT FOR DAYS. And now that the storm is gone and done its damage, it's all they CONTINUE to talk about. 24 hours a day, 7 days a week since Wednesday or Thursday of LAST WEEK.
And while Beth and I were fortunate, I guess we didn't escape completely unscathed. The church has suffered a significant amount of damage and we spent about 4 hours trying to clean up. It will likely be 4-6 weeks before we are able to worship in the auditorium again. But our congregation is a pilar of faith. I dare you to find a group of people who love the Lord and serve him unfailing more than these folks. There are many who are equal, but none who are more. Their committment to the love of Jesus Christ and his people astounds me.
So let the return to our "new normal" begin. Beth and I are back at work and there's nothing that screams more normal than that. The power will be turned back on, whether it's tonight or next week. And 6 months from now, I'll have to come back here and read this to attempt to remember how I feel.
I guess that's why I started this blog more than 3 years ago. Because we forget the further from the "whatever" we get.
Thanks for letting me ramble (even though it is MY blog) and thanks for reading.
Because of His grace,