Like many people, I had an eventful week last week thanks to Hurricane Matthew. When it was coming at us, it was making a direct hit on the island I live on. The news reports were crazy, saying that the whole island could possibly be destroyed, that there would be devastating damage, etc. I have never evacuated for a hurricane before. When I was younger we always just stayed at the house, and played cards, listened to the radio, and so on. With that being said, we were going to stay at the house and ride this one out, until we made the very last minute decision to leave and go more inland (It helped that the neighbors were all leaving too, and we didn’t want to be the only ones here). So we packed up the cats, and some valuables, and went over to a friend’s house to wait it out and pray for the best, to pray that our house would still be standing, to pray that we would be able to get there quickly to assess the damage. Our prayers were answered, and the hurricane wobbled away from us just enough that our island was saved from the devastating effects of the storm. Now, we didn’t walk away with no damage, our fence got demolished, but compared to what we saw in other countries like Haiti, and what we were seeing up the northern coasts of Florida, we were very grateful and blessed.
One of the best parts of that storm though was seeing how people acted. Natural disasters can either bring out the best or worst in people. Now, I definitely saw some of the worst in people who were getting ready for it, but I also saw some of the best. We got help putting some boards up on our house, which was great, because by the time we were thinking we should do that, all the screws were gone, and all we could use were anchors. Now, if you don’t know anything about the difference, or really what one does, as I didn’t, let me give you a brief summary. Anchors create bigger holes in the side of the house, and are also harder to get out, whereas screws are easily put in and out with minimal damage. Well, beggars can’t be choosers when you wait the last minute to board up, so we worked with what we had, and thankfully had a friend come help put them up. After the storm though is when we received the biggest help. As I mentioned before, our fence was demolished. Pieces were down all over the yard, and one even was leaning on the house into one of the boarded up windows. It was a huge mess to deal with, and our next door neighbor had the same issue. Well, when we were talking in the driveway, he told me not to worry about the fence, that he would pick it all up and take care of it for me. I can’t even tell you what a relief that was. There was so much to do inside and out, that just the thought of hauling heavy fence pieces was exhausting, but I knew it was something I had to do. Well, the next day he hauled away his and our fence pieces, making my life so much easier than I could have ever imagined. Now, this guy has helped me out before, he fixed a tire on my car, and the front plastic piece, and each time is such a wonderful surprise, especially when I don’t even realize it’s a problem until it’s fixed. This was no different, it actually made my day to know I could focus on emptying stuff from the garage and the back porch rather than picking up debris. Then a few days later, another friend came over and figured out how to get the boards off the walls (take that anchors!) without causing damage to the house. I am fairly handy, but not when it comes to that stuff, so I would have been so lost without his help, but instead it was completed, and he is owed a new set of drill bits, but I promise he will get one.
So what’s the point of me saying all of this? It’s that even though these people had their own houses and their own things to take care of, they reached out, and pulled together with others in the community to help. And across the state, you were hearing of neighborhoods were a group gathered with chainsaws and cleared away the damage and tree debris left by the storm, or friends who took people in because they had power, while so many didn’t. This is how we are supposed to react when natural disaster or tragedy strikes. We are supposed to band together, and help one another out, not turn on each other, or leave everyone to fend for themselves. Even when it’s difficult to find the time, because we all have so much going on, take time to help your neighbor. Even if it’s helping the elderly woman carry in a case of water, or picking up trash that got blown all over your neighbors yard. I promise you, it’ll be worth it to help them out in a time when they need it.
It’s also a great reminder that no matter what happens in your life, God sets you up with everything you need. Now, our area was incredibly blessed, but many others were not, and I pray for those areas to band together and heal quickly as well. Some of the damage can’t be undone, but we can always move forward and push on….together.