Blessings in the Eye of the Storm

For those with whom I am not facebook friends (yet, you can always friend me anytime, I will accept from blog readers!), yes, we were not far from ground zero of where Hurricane Irene made landfall in the US. And yes, we are okay. Our property sustained no damage and none of us even had a headache as far as the storm was concerned. To say we were blessed, is an understatement. God blessed us abundantly even before the first warnings were issued in the case of big bad Irene.

First, for some humor. Did anyone else see the irony in naming a hurricane “Irene?” The name itself means serenity. When news first popped up that it may possibly be a threat to the US mainland, I immediately virtually marched myself over to the winner of “Funniest Blog” from the Catholic New Media Awards‘ facebook page and announced I was going to hold her and her husband responsible if Irene made landfall. Her response was satisfyingly what I would have expected, “I know, we were giggling about that yesterday! She’s been on quite a rampage lately, and only wishes she actually had devastating winds and torrential rain to add to her powers. ” After all this, I began more humorously seriously contemplating naming a hurricane “Irene.” Just outside of Olean, NY (where, coincidentally my mother grew up and my grandparents are active members of St Bonaventure parish) is a retreat center run by St Bonaventure University called Mount Ireaneaus. It is a beautiful place situated on a mountain surrounded by nature and a true place to hear God’s voice. I’ve been there. Breathtaking doesn’t do it justice. So, here we are. Stuck in southeastern NC with a Category 3 hurricane churning off the coast with a name meaning “serenity,” so what else could I envision except this discourse:

Frank Costanza: [yelling] Serenity now. Serenity now.
George Costanza: What is that?
Frank Costanza: Doctor gave me a relaxation cassette. When my blood pressure gets too high, the man on the tape tells me to say: “SERENITY NOW”
George Costanza: Are you supposed to yell it?
Frank Costanza: The man on the tape wasn’t specific.

And this montage:

As the guy at the ends says, “Serenity Now. Insanity Later.”

Last week was a whirlwind, so it only fits that it would end in a hurricane. The end of the previous week had water spouts appearing on the coast. I officially started my job on Saturday and Sunday my parents came for a visit with Jeff and the kids (while I worked) and took us out to dinner. After dinner, Jeff and the kids and I drove into Wilmington to drop Jeff’s car off to have it looked at and worked on. It had recently started to have the dashboard lights go out when you applied the break. Fun stuff. Monday morning, we went to a local attorney’s office to complete the paperwork for the re-financing of our mortgage. We raced from there to Wrightsville Beach for Surfers Healing camp for Shelby. It was a gorgeous day on the beach. A little warm but great waves and not too rough at the same time. Shelby had an amazing time surfing. We wished we could have stayed all day, but we had open house at Shelby’s school that afternoon. (We wished we could have gotten there earlier as the day officially begins with a prayer circle of everyone present at that time! Next year for sure!) So we raced from the beach to our house, fed everyone, bathed everyone, dressed everyone and went to Shelby’s school for open house. Open house was great, although chaotic in an autism classroom. We met Shelby’s teachers, therapists, assistants and administrators. Finally the day was over and we were home eating dinner.

Jeff returned to school the next day with my car as his was in the shop sent from our normal mechanic to a place that works on electrical systems. Which left me, car less. Late Monday and Monday night, tornadoes touched down in our area. We were blessedly spared. Then, around mid-day, I logged onto facebook to find out that apparently, there was an earthquake in VA that was felt in our area. Again, we did not feel anything, but friends living and working not far away felt shaking for sure. I immediately emailed and called Jeff to inform him we were okay and didn’t even feel anything. A friend who is a Missionary Baptist minister urged me to keep calling and emailing to make sure Jeff was okay about 2 ½ hours north preparing for his students to come to Open House that night. Eventually Jeff emailed back that he had felt the shaking in the building and he and his colleagues were okay and the school sustained no damage. Overall, in our area, the earthquake was a little overhyped (although I am sure it was terrifying much closer to the actual epicenter). That afternoon, Shelby had occupational therapy. Her therapist said she was on a nearby island with a client when the quake hit in a house on stilts. Needless to say, there was some shaking going on there!

Wednesday we discovered I needed to find either a way to get our car on Friday or a way to get back to the attorney’s office to get our re-finance check and deposit it in Jeff’s account at the bank. And bad news, there was a hurricane in the ocean that we had no idea what it was going to do. Our neighbor who normally pinch hits for me in these situations is, understandably, terrified of storms and wasn’t able to do it. I began trying to figure out what, exactly, was going to happen. Oh, and getting Shelby ready for her first day of school on Thursday.

Thursday, the boys and I took Shelby down to the bus stop and sent her off to kindergarten. We had been afraid how she would react to riding the bus as she is afraid of diesel engines, but she got on after only a slight hesitation and found a seat (with the help of the bus monitor). (I’ll write another post about Shelby and school soon.) I went back into the house and prepared for waiting at the stop to pick her up. Around noon, my cell phone rang with a robo-call from the superintendent of Shelby’s school system informing us that the second day of school would be a half day in order for the schools that are to be used as hurricane shelters to be prepared and ensure that families had enough time to prepare for Irene. No big deal. But I was still trying to figure out how I was going to get from the house to the attorney’s office on Friday and back. Jeff sent an SOS out on facebook and lo and behold, friends of ours who own a gourmet market and catering company offered use of one of their catering trucks through the storm. They hated the idea of me possibly being stranded with the kids when the storm hit and knew I would need to get everything settled with the bank beforehand. So that afternoon, after Shelby was home, they dropped the truck off and made sure I would have everything I needed for the storm just in case Jeff didn’t make it back in time. About nine o’clock Thursday night, I was awakened by my cell-phone. A robo-call from the superintendent informed me classes had been canceled for all county schools on Friday. First bands of Irene were expected to hit our area about noon and it was too dangerous for children to be on buses in that weather. I was not at all upset (although it did give the first week of school a disjointed feeling) and after calling a good friend to update her on the general situation, I fell asleep.

The next morning, I awoke to realize, I did not have diapers or toilet paper. Not good. Two things I DID NOT want to go through a hurricane without. And, truth be told, we could use a few more non-perishable food items in the house. A friend had deposited cash in my account for gas which meant the little bit I had in reserves would serve our needs for other stuff. I woke the kids up before six, fed them, clothed them and off to Big Box Mart we went. I got diapers, some food and we headed home. We were only short dog food, but I had a plan. If Jeff couldn’t get any on his way home, I would cook up some rice and the dogs would be good with that until the storm was over and we could get out. I am nothing if not resourceful! We made it to the attorney’s office as the first bands of the storm were making landfall and rain was just starting. We then got to the bank before they closed and deposited our check. Then we went home and hunkered down. Jeff made it home (with dog food and other supplies to supplement what I had gotten). Around 10 pm, we lost power. We cracked our windows open as the tropical storm force winds brought a pleasant breeze through the house. The kids went to be fairly complacently before the loss of power. I had made sure our cell phones were charged before the power went out.

Saturday morning we awoke to still no power. The kids had a breakfast of pop-tarts. The boys and Shelby began making forts, looking at books, inventing games, playing flashlight tag. I have to say, I am VERY impressed with the fact that not once did anyone ask for any kind of television, or ac or anything. Around 9 am, our power was restored. Our house had stayed cool enough that our AC didn’t kick in right away which was very pleasant. Here are some shots of that morning,

as you can see, there is a gene my kids have called the “Hurricane, we don’t need no stinking hurricane!” genome. I believe they got it from my husband’s side. At the point Jeff we let them out there, the winds were down to tropical storm force. And although Jeff is not in the pictures he was out there at the time. After about an hour, Jeff went and check the roads. He found no flooding on the main road immediately in front of where we live, but there was some further along on my way to work, deeming it unsafe for me to travel to work that day. The roads were clear on the way to Big Box Mart though and they were open with power and so was McDonald’s in that same plaza. Guess were we went in the waning time of the storm…we got lunch for the kids at McDonald’s (okay, we ate some too) and went into Big Box Mart. The management there had deliveries coming in of essentials like ice, batteries, bread, etc until the bitter end and as a result, the store didn’t look like a hurricane had hit with the exception of a few strategically placed buckets etc. We made it back home and I called my work and informed them I wasn’t able to go in, to which my boss replied she was just getting ready to call me to tell me to stay home and not risk my life. Around 2:30 pm, our area saw the last of the storm winds and rain. We did get a little more rain later in the day from a very small inland system, but it was nothing. I was able to go to work on Sunday afternoon, Shelby was able to return to school on Monday. All in all, we fared pretty well. Our prayers go out to those suffering terrible flooding, still without electricity and sustaining major damage to their properties and business. Not to mention to the families of those who lost their lives. One man in our area was swept off a dock into the Cape Fear River early Saturday morning.

I have to say, this storm taught me some things no other storms have. For one, friends help friends when they are in trouble. The money deposited in my account and the use of the catering truck seem like small things, but they helped us weather the storm that much better. My boss had compassion (since you can be fired for not reporting to work in inclement weather, regardless of risk to your health or damage to your home/property) as did my co-workers who checked up on us.  People called, facebooked, emailed, and texted to check on our safety. And I learned that my kids are amazingly resilient when faced with things like loss of power. I learned that humor can carry you a long way when things seem scary. And that God does give us amazing blessings in some of the stormiest times of life…Irene, it’s not such a bad name. It’s a saint’s name. I wonder if any little girls born nine-months from now in our area will have it as a first or middle name?


2 thoughts on “Blessings in the Eye of the Storm

  1. What an amazing story of the storm. And, what a blessing to have such great people in your life. I think you’ll be happy years from now that you wrote all of this down.
    So happy everyone is well!

  2. Pingback: Blessings in the Eye of the Storm | St Monica's Bridge | |

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