Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Thoughts on Hurricane Matthew

This morning Brynn and I walked to the playground before her morning nap. But the playground is now home to a tired tree that broke during Hurricane Matthew and hasn't been cleared yet. We still got in some good playtime, though.

The complex pool didn't look very good, either. The water was literally black. 

Besides Snowmageddon in Philadelphia last year--which cancelled church but didn't turn out to be too terrible--Hurricane Matthew is the first natural disaster that Greg or I have been in. On Wednesday we started hearing reports that the storm would be pretty big, although no one was sure if it would make landfall in Jacksonville or whether it would be a Category 3 or 4 when it got to us. All activities at the church were cancelled that night, and Greg was told not to come to work Thursday or Friday. Thursday we mostly sat inside while it rained, tracking the storm in the Caribbean. 

The brunt of the hurricane hit Jacksonville through Friday afternoon. The wind was loud, and the storm came in bands. It would be incredibly windy and then it would die down, only to pick back up. Greg mentioned that he had seen winds like that in Idaho during blizzards, but nothing as sustained as this storm was. We lost power for about 24 hours, which was inconvenient, but not really a big problem. We know people who only got power back last night, and we didn't have to evacuate like our friends out at the beach or in St. Johns County. 

Although damage was not very bad where we lived, there was definitely damage in Jacksonville. A huge tree fell on a building in my friends' complex just down the road. There are still intersections without power, and there are trees and fences down everywhere. Little ditches are now full-fledged retention ponds. The beach eroded, and the A1A literally washed out to sea. 

We have fond memories of driving down this road in the sunshine to St. Augustine. It's sad that we can't do that anymore. 

But the biggest takeaway I got from Hurricane Matthew is how blessed we can be when we are obedient and prepare. In my first ward council meeting in June, my bishop discussed how he wanted our ward to work on preparedness, both temporal and spiritual. The temporal thing seemed kind of weird to me because the church hasn't pushed that as heavily as they did before the 2008 crash. But our ward listened. We've had all kinds of activities and all sorts of things since then. For the first time in our lives, Greg and I got together actually functioning 72 hour kits for everyone in our family. We started trying to make our food storage and other supplies more complete. 

So when the hurricane came, we didn't worry. It didn't matter if we had to evacuate. We felt safe. I am so grateful for discerning leaders of my church who give us counsel that is pertinent to us and our situations. And I'm grateful that we were able to see real blessings because of our obedience. 

On Sunday, we had a short sacrament meeting, and then we headed out to do cleanup with the supplies that the LDS church shipped into town. You guys, I have a Mormon Helping Hands shirt and everything. It was so awesome to see everyone pull together to help others. Tonight Greg is headed down to St. Augustine with the scouts to see what else they can do. 

Haiti is in my heart right now, because of the people they lost and the damage they sustained. Being in a storm that killed so many people has made me much more empathetic, and I'm looking for opportunities to see what we can do. 

So even though the storm could have been a lot worse, it changed my perspective on a lot of things, and isn't that what storms are supposed to do? 

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