“Daddy, have you been keeping up with the storm?” I asked.
“No, not really. Why? Should I?” He replied with little concern in his voice.
“Yes! Hurricane Matthew is going to impact South Carolina. They’re saying it’s going to be like Hurricane Hugo was for us back in 1989.” I said, trying not to be an alarmist, but hoping he’d see the seriousness of this approaching storm!
“I haven’t really been watching it. I just have a peace about it, and I don’t think it will be that bad.” He said, in the calmest tone ever.
This was a conversation I had with my daddy two days prior to Hurricane Matthew pounding South Carolina’s coast. While we’re not right on the coast, I knew from the news reports that we would be affected in our area.
Taking a moment to reflect back on Hurricane Hugo, I remember feeling nervous and anxious in 1989 with the threat of a hurricane approaching. We boarded windows on our blue house and rode it out that night. At the time, we lived in a block house, so we did not fear damage to our structure so much. With windows boarded, we prayed no trees would fall on the roof as we tried to steal a few hours of sleep. We awoke to downed trees, but we were spared a huge amount of damage, unlike others in our area. I remember doing yard clean up work when one of my former classmates drove up in our yard. My face flushed with embarrassment as they giggled at me, but without lights or water, there was no way to shower. I tried the best I could to look presentable, but there was no denying my less than perfect appearance with hair tossed around and no makeup.
Fast forward 27 years that really sailed by way too fast for my liking, and the same nervousness and anxiousness resurfaced as Hurricane Matthew changed course. I knew then, without a shadow of a doubt, we would feel the affects of this hurricane further inland.
Bracing ourselves for the worst, we filled all of our vehicles with gas just in case we needed to join the mass of others evacuating. We consulted with some of our horse friends in the area, but they thought our horses would be fine in our pasture instead of finding a facility elsewhere to house them until the threat of the storm was over. As the rain started, we were under the shelter tagging our horses with ribbons braided in their manes bearing our names and phone numbers just in case our fence got damaged in the storm and our horses got out. Tears filled my eyes at the thought, but I forced them back so as not to upset my children who were helping us.
Arming ourselves with food, water, flashlights, and ensuring the RV was positioned out of harm’s way, we prayed as Hurricane Matthew drew nearer. Sleep was scarce as the wind and rain slowly began tapping on our windows at first, then became more forceful as it beat angrily on the side of the house and roof so strongly at certain points we felt it would surely burst right through our wooden structure. Thoughts of the big bad wolf from my childhood days ran through my mind as the wind threatened to huff, and puff, and blow my little white house in the country down completely. I forced those thoughts right out of my head and began praying to God instead! As I tiptoed down the hall in the wee morning hours and began to peer out of the living room window, I prayed over the two trees way too close to the front of my house for my liking at that point in time. When once I admired those tall, strong trees, they now became a threat to me as if one fell with the force of the wind, I feared it would land directly on my living room and garage. More upsetting was the thought of the other falling across my children’s rooms. They swirled and swayed back and forth, and at other times looked like someone was shaking them viciously as they were tossed to and fro by the relentless wind. I had a long conversation with God concerning those rather large trees and pleaded with Him for protection over our family. Suddenly, our lights began to flicker, then went completely out leaving us in utter darkness alone with the big bad wolf still beating on our door with this feeling of impending doom deep inside of us.
When daylight began to break through leaving the night sky and my fears behind, I ventured outside to check on the horses. Tears stung my eyes as I found them huddled together under their shelter. The one pony they always seem to leave out in the rain was tucked under the shelter, too. It was as if the other horses had compassion and said, “Okay, little one, you can join us. We do love you, even if we don’t always show it.”
As the rain and wind subsided, we gathered our belongings and headed to the RV. We realized during the previous ice storms we’ve had that our area will be one of the very last with power restored, unfortunately. Having just purchased this Class A Fleetwood Flair RV in March, I whispered prayers of thanks to God for us making the right decision with this purchase! I’ll never forget how we went back and forth until we finally decided it would be a wise move, and this past weekend certainly proved that to be true. We were able to fire up the generator and live in comfort for short periods of time, in an effort to conserve gas. With the water tank completely full and LP gas on board, we were able to have hot showers, too!
Being without power forced us to put down our cell phones more since battery life was so precious, it seemed. Since we were not able to watch television, we were outside together watching our horses graze while my youngest daughter rode her bike. While it seems like a hardship, it makes you spend time with your family that you really should be spending with them any way! I think even after the storm and this timely reminder, we should make more of an effort to put down our phones and turn off our televisions to really get to know our family members again!
When we ventured out in our neighborhood, it didn’t take long for us to realize why we were still without power.
As we drove cautiously around the curve, it almost seemed like more trees were down than standing! Sadly, as we approached a group of homes, we noticed a tall pine tree uprooted and laying over on a house.
Transformers were snatched from the ground and power lines from their poles.
And there stood my sweet friend in her yard. We stopped immediately when we recognized her and asked if everyone was okay. She replied that they were, all things considered. She had tarps inside to protect her belongings, but that was all they could do at that point. We were just thankful to hear that no one got hurt and no lives were lost when the tree fell on their house.
After leaving my friend’s house, I thought of another dear friend I hadn’t heard from. With urgency in my voice, I asked my husband to drive to our friend’s house. Night was falling again by the time we found the driveway. We pulled in and searched for their vehicles, but none could be found. We were hopeful that they evacuated and were in a safer area. As we drove home, I whispered a silent prayer for their safety! And … thankfully, the very next day, they sent us a message that all was well. They were without power, and their phones were not charged to reach out to anyone until that point in time. They assured us that we were the first ones they notified of their safety. Oh, thank God for answered prayer! Our friends were safe!
As far as my parents, they never left their house the entire time … and, miraculously, they never lost power! While my dad didn’t get a bit of sleep Friday night into Saturday morning, my mother slept right through the entire thing.
There’s just something about having peace in the mist of the storm. And, there’s something, also, to be said for heeding the warnings and preparing in advance “just in case.”
We’re thankful for another day, and we pray our electricity will be restored soon. As we wait, we realize how fortunate we are in only having a few downed trees in the back of our property. How fortunate we have been! Thank you, God. Sadly, others in our area, especially along the coast, weren’t so lucky.
There is a lesson to be learned by Hurricane Matthew. All week long at work, we had The Weather Channel going as we watched as they tracked this storm. As it approached landfall, it shifted and came further inland than first anticipated. Governor Nikki Haley was begging and pleading with fellow South Carolinians to evacuate and flee their homes. People rushed to the grocery stores to stock up on supplies as Hurricane Matthew drew nearer.
What if we all saw the urgency in getting our hearts and lives right with God before He comes back? What if we watched, prayed, and prepared for the second coming of the Lord like all who had their eyes glued to the news watching the weather? What if we got down on our knees and begged God for forgiveness and hid scriptures away in our hearts? Then we could be like my father with peace in our hearts not fearing what was to come.
It’s definitely something to ponder.