- Travel and Places
The Aftermath of Hurricane Matthew in Savannah, Georgia
Hurricane Matthew uprooted trees, flipped small houses and left major destruction along the Georgia coast
The days leading up to the most destructive hurricane in recent history
First week in October and it is barely feeling like fall in Savannah and truthfully more like summer. With daily rain followed by drought and 40 days and nights of temperatures above 90, we laugh at pumpkins and fall decorations in the stores. Who do they think they are kidding? We have only had one cool day and that brought out the sand gnats which kept us from enjoying it anyway. When would jacket weather begin and biting bugs die off? It was time to have a little reprieve from the oppressive heat, but this is Savannah and that was unlikely to happen any time soon, or so we thought.
With no television to taunt me of my impending doom, I was not alarmed that another hurricane was brewing in the Atlantic. It was too late in the season for a major hurricane to form and unlikely it would come on shore. We had just gotten over Tropical Storm Hermine and it took three days to clean up the damage from downed limbs to smaller fallen trees. That storm hit around 2 in the afternoon and I went to stand with my horse in the paddock because he was afraid, but the winds picked up and the branches cracked, so I put him in his dry stall and retreated to the house, not knowing how bad things would be and having no power or home phone to contact anyone.
The power was out for a day, but clean up took a week. That was about as close as I wanted to come to a hurricane and the closest big storm we had since the late seventies. We were feeling blessed, but now weather forecasters were predicting a direct hit with winds of 145 mph; twice the strength of Hermine. To make it worse, the weather channel video on Facebook showed a giant red H circled off to the east of Hurricane Matthew. The H stood for high, but it looked more like an abbreviation for Hell. There was a smaller Hurricane Nicole pushing Matthew toward the US coast line and preventing it from taking the usual path out to sea.This did not look promising for anyone from Florida to Virginia and ignoring it was not the best plan.
By Monday, five days before the hurricane struck, we knew we needed to start preparing for what could be the most devastating storm to hit our area since Hurricane David in 1979. We had stayed through that one, but it took over a week for power to be restored and Savannah was a ghost town for days with the only way to travel being on foot or by bike unless you lived in a more metropolitan area.
When Matthew hit Haiti and killed over 800 people who had nowhere to run and no safe shelter on higher ground, preparations for impact on the United States East Coast became priority one and whether to stay or go became an agonizing wait and see game.
Getting the critters to safety started three days before the hurricane arrived
Faith verses reason: Do we stay or do we go?
Tuesday night it was getting real. Matthew was approaching on a direct course up the coast of Florida and was predicted to hit us by Friday evening. Having had so much damage from Hermine and watching in fear as tree branches and smaller trees crashed in the horse's paddock, I decided to call on local stable owner, Linda Brown who wisely started evacuating her horses early. She had space, so plans to get horse and chicken feed and hay for Wednesday were cancelled as we took horses inland to a safe, or at least safer shelter in Brooklet where they would stay for a few days until the hurricane blew past.
I volunteered to take some of Linda's smaller animals she uses for her petting zoo at Norwood Stables. I picked up a rat, five male rabbits and five polish chick babies and crated them to the house where I planned to stick the storm out. My goat, who jumped on the trailer when they came to get the horse, stayed with Linda's goats in an open area at her barn where they all survived along with two alpacas which refused to go on the trailer.
The rabbits were too big to come in my tiny house so I put them in the hay room which sits a foot above the ground and is fully enclosed up to four feet with two by fours to six feet and open air and a tin roof above that. I figured they would be safe there. Since there was a threat of flooding I planned to turn my chickens in the low lying coop out during the storm, but leave the others in higher coops in. It would have to do. The feral cats were smart and would not come in if I tried, so they would be fine and my own rabbit had been running the yard as a wild thing for the past three months, so should have sense enough to seek safe shelter and survive as well. All was about as good as it could get. My only other concern was where to park the truck and how I was going to pay the bills losing two days of work that week.
On Thursday, work was cancelled and it seemed imminent we were going to get hit by at least tropical force winds. I called my parents and told them to pack a bag and put some water in the car just in case the storm came closer to shore and turned in our direction. The city, at first issued a voluntary evacuation, then mandatory, but we stayed put, waiting...
We had been through category two hurricanes before, It wasn't fun, but we survived the roaring winds and knew we could do it again. Still, my parents are in their 80s and already stressed enough. Mom wanted to go. Dad wanted to stay. I was torn both ways. I had taken in Linda's pets and I did not want to fight the crowds leaving in mass, but we still had time to make a decision and filled up buckets and tubs with water and bought emergency supplies either way.
Three days after the hurricane, roads were still blocked with downed trees, limbs, snapped power lines and enough debris to fill a football field
We decide to go last minute, but discover there are no hotels from Savannah to Atlanta
On Friday morning as officials shut down major incoming roads into Savannah we decided it would be smartest to go. We grabbed a change of clothes and a few pair of underwear. Bottled water has been sold out of the local stores since Tuesday along with bread and peanut butter, but I had gotten a case free a few months ago and pulled the peanut butter jar out of the bag I had been saving to take to the church food bank. Both came in handy.
We wait and watch the news, but it does not look good. I have put enough food and water in with the animals to get them through three days, maybe more. Just before mid-day we head out on Hwy 21 north toward Millen. It is gray with gusting wind and rain. Even so, we wonder if we should have toughed it out. We hope we have homes left unscathed when we return and hope even harder that the storm skips over our little indentation and gets pulled back to sea.
We look for hotels in Millen, Waynesboro and Augusta but they are all full. One hotel clerk says she stopped answering the phones. "They keep ringing off the hook and people get mad at me when I tell them we don't have any room. I can't handle it anymore!"
At least a half dozen people walk in the same time I am leaving. They are all looking for vacancies as well. We feel like vagabonds, all thinking the smaller towns would be less crowded than the big cities. So much for that thought! After an hour of looking near the area and driving by some seedy weekly rentals that look more like crack houses and brothels, we give up and call my cousin who lives about 15 miles away. She tells us we can come stay with her so we stop to eat and arrive as the sun is starting to set. We are all road weary and grateful for a place to stay, but feel bad about intruding. Still, it is family and that is what family does for you.
We spend the night talking and watching TV, wondering if we did the right thing. We hear all sorts of news of Florida and see a guy in Jacksonville who can hardly stand against the pelting rain, but still it doesn't look that bad. It is hard to get any news on Savannah, so we go to sleep and hope to find out more in the morning. The plan is to wake up, watch the news and start heading home around 10 if the roads are open. I am anxious about the animals and feeling guilty for leaving them behind.
Saturday morning it becomes clear that we made the right choice. There appears to be a lot of wind damage and many low lying areas flooded. Some people lost houses. Only two people lost their lives, one a man who was crushed when a tree fell on him while in the house and one elderly gentleman who died of complications they believe related to stress.
Friends on Facebook provided us with more news than the news channel. CEMA - Chatham county's version of FEMA says that people will not be allowed back in for a week. That hardly seems likely. We begin to worry, but there isn't much we can do. I go out with my cousin to see the dogs. She breeds and trains German Shepherds. I have never seen her kennels or been to her house in all the years she has lived there, so it is nice to catch up. We talk too much, but it helps ease the worry over what is going on at home. It now becomes anther waiting game.
Hurricane evacuees take on city officials in a fight to return home
We thought it would be a day, maybe two before we could get home, but city officials are saying no one will be allowed in for a week while the mess is cleaned up. We can't get much information from the television so turn to social media. It does not look good. Apparently a tornado went through directly where I live and touched down at the houses nearby, destroying a trailer park less than a half mile from my home and snapping limbs and uprooting huge trees. We wonder if we will have a home to go to.
My cousin distracts us by taking us to the canal region of Augusta. I have been here before on a kayak trip with Adopt-a-Stream. It is nice to be outside. It is not really that cool, but I am wearing a hooded sweatshirt which I debated to bring at all and still shivering. I slept on the couch last night. It was actually comfortable and I slept well, but I was getting stir crazy and needed to move. Having a cell phone was a blessing as it connected with the internet anywhere. I got news that the horse was okay and the goats had survived. Linda's barn was a wreck. Part of the roof had blown off, fences were flattened, trees were down, but all the critters survived.
Two women from the barn climbed through my bathroom window and rescued the animals from my house. They were unable to find the rabbits and later we found that one had been eaten by something and two others, including mine were missing. All but one rooster survived and he seemed to be taken by whatever got the rabbit(s). I felt awful and was sure I would be talked about for years to come as the person who volunteered to rescue helpless creatures and then abandoned them out of fear for her own safety, but had it not been for my parents, I would have stayed, so their lives trumped that of rabbits and rats, but still, I felt like a heel.
They kindly fed my chickens and informed me that the streets were impassible with trees down all along the road; trees so big that they could not climb over them, but the house, the stalls and the coops were still standing. That was something. I still did not know if the truck or my parent's house had made it. It was almost as stressful as being there, but we thanked God that human lives were spared and begged to spend just one more night before attempting to find a back way unblocked by police into the city.
Facebook and cell phones save the day
Having friends on Facebook proved to be invaluable and having a cell phone that picked up satellite internet was an even greater save. We were able to determine that the locals had cleared a path down the road to our homes and that even though there were roadblocks set up by police, there was a way around them if you took backroads. I knew back roads (I got lost a lot!). We could do this!
I suppose it is kind of stupid to rush home to a hurricane ravaged home with no water or electricity and a refrigerator full of rotting food, but we wanted to get back and start the clean-up process. We were told that gas, ice, food and water were pretty much impossible to purchase and what payments were being taken were cash only, so an hour and a half out from town on Sunday afternoon, we stopped in Waynesboro to shop for food and water and get something to eat. I also stopped at the local feed store to get more chicken feed because I was so busy prepping the horse and goat to leave that I had not had time to replenish their feed and had been feeding the chickens wild birdseed which they left largely untouched except for the sunflower seeds. Who knew chickens had sophisticated taste buds?
We had the car packed with bottled water and canned goods, extra batteries and a change of clothes for my dad who had been wearing the same shirt for three days. We never thought it would be more than two days that we were gone and that was naive, but you hope for the best and never imagine it being as bad as predicted.
My cousin's husband who works for the fire department, called to tell us that the city had decided to let people return around 5 p.m. so we timed our arrival for about 4 p.m. thinking they might let us in early, but no go. We were turned around in Garden City at the county line and took a detour into South Carolina along the wildlife preserve where we followed back roads to more detours and dead ends with downed trees and power lines everywhere. It was odd, because we really didn't start to see damage until we got about thirty miles from the city and even that seemed minimal with only one tree down on a home on Hwy 21.
We came in the back roads through the ports and it seemed as if no hurricane had been there at all. Everything looked normal until we got on Derenne where all the lights were out and traffic was backed up as intersections turned into four way stops. Some people took the four way stop as a means to barrel through one right after the other, but most people stopped and obeyed emergency traffic rules with no police there to enforce it. Sometimes people do act civilized even when no one is watching!
As we drove down Waters we saw real damage with trees down and power lines hanging, then snapped power line poles and trees crushing houses and fences. It was a miracle some people survived. When we got to our street we had to come through a side road along the back. It was like driving on a dirt road despite the fact it was paved under all the rubble. There was a huge pine tree down on the corner and my home was blocked by trees on either entry. I could not even see the house from the road and drove further to take my parents home.
There were huge trees cut on either side of the road, level with the road itself. A huge tree sat on the power line like it wanted to go for a swing. Power lines lay flat across the road and both my parents driveways were blocked, one by a tree, one by a mound of dirt about four feet high. It was odd looking, like a green lichen carpet rising at an angle. At first I thought the county had dumped a mound of dirt there to lay out in the street for traction. We parked just off the road and walked up to see that what we were looking at was the actual ground which had risen up when a huge tree had fallen right on top of my parents roof!
The roots of the tree had snapped near the surface, lifting the dirt up all around them like some deep creature awakening from the gloom. There was no way to drive around it. Another pine in the opposite drive was blocking entry as well, so we left the car parked off the road and I helped my parents carry a few things back to the house. The tree had penetrated the outside of the house, but not the ceiling, so that was good. It was starting to get dark and I wanted to see my home and if the chickens, remaining rabbits and cats had survived. My truck, which had escaped damage, was blocked in so I walked to my house, tramping through squishy mud and a crush of pine and oak leaves and limbs. It looked like one of those cakes you crumble things on top. There wasn't any square inch of ground that did not have debris on it.
Most of the damage in Savannah was caused by downed trees and spin-off tornadoes
Walking the road from my parents house to mine was perilous with downed wires and trees everywhere
We had been told on Facebook that it would take three weeks to get power back to our neighborhood. As I walked down the half mile street in route to my home, wondering what kind of damage awaited, I was more concerned about cars driving through than the numerous chain sawed trees sitting out into the road. There was no side-of-the-road to walk on and the road itself was barely visible under the rubble.
I even had a hard time recognizing my own drive which had two large sweet gum branches draped over the entrance. I was able to pull one, which weighed about 80 pounds, but the other was closer to 200 pounds and had to be dragged, shifted, and spun to to the side to get past it.
The chickens were fine. The feral cats also made an appearance and acted as if it was just a regular day and I was coming home from work to feed them! The horse lot was a mess with multiple trees down and criss crossing like giant pick up sticks thrown within inches of horse stalls and feed room.
There was a large cherry tree broken and twisted over one of the utility houses, still hanging and just off to the side. It would take some engineering to figure out how to remove that one without damaging the building or myself, but outside of the large pecan limb that was as big around and tall as a medium sized tree that crushed my fence, gate and took down two smaller trees on its own, the damage was more an inconvenience than a danger.
I felt guilty assessing my damage while my parents carted gear out of their car in a wheelbarrow, so walked back to their house as soon as possible, passing dad's replacement scout master as he was headed home from helping someone chop limbs off their drive. Despite being tired, he returned with me to their house and spent an hour clearing a path through the smaller downed tree in the drive allowing them access to their back yard and me access to my truck to get to work two days later when we opened up and offered our facilities for showers and coffee for anyone who needed it. There are some perks to working for a facility with laundry and shower facilities!!! When things got busy up front, a friend even dried and folded my laundry so I would have something to wear to work later that week while the power and water were off at my house.
While there, a woman came in expecting business as normal and started making loud complaints to the manager that she did not understand why she was being inconvenienced from her regular routine while others were allowed to shower and sit. Apparently she had no damage to her home and still had lights and utilities. It made us wonder if she had bothered to drive around and look at all the damage and if she had any sympathy for those who were facing a new and very stressful life that may take weeks and even years to return to normal. While she seemed un-remorseful for her rant of privilege, many others were in near tears and grateful and enjoyed the chance to sit and sip coffee while talking to others who had been through the same experience. It was an overall nice day and made me proud to work for a company that cares.
The new normal
While staying at my cousin's house my mother had mentioned how growing old and having my dad lose his hearing and cope with varying levels of dementia were taking a toll on her. I tried to help out as much as possible, but my own life was just as hectic and it was hard to do the things I needed to do for me, much less help my parents, though I didn't mind doing it when I could.
My cousin, who has worked in the healthcare industry for years and is working with older adults now said that they referred to it as the "new normal", when you can't move as well or can't afford to do the things you used to do or have trouble coping with things that used to be simple for you. You go from being sort of care-free and able to function to having to work harder and do things differently and it is hard to accept that things are not what they once were but you adapt and move on and make the best of it and try to see the good side of the struggle, not the persistent drag that seems to be your fateful undoing.
When we returned home to no lights and water, we got a taste of that new normal. I was able to charge the phone in the truck and keep up with what was going on. There was a constant stream of work trucks, cutting down more trees, putting up new power poles and stringing new cable between the poles. In a way I felt guilty for not staying and I missed that two day period where those that did stay joined as one to make sure everyone was okay.
The neighborhood gang took off-road golf carts down the streets and checked on people while bringing out the chainsaws and cutting a path so emergency personnel could get in and get out. Local churches opened their doors and offered food and refuge with one taking food and water into a trailer park that had gotten hit hard by a tornado. Everyone pitched in and helped in whatever capacity they were able and without electricity more people came out in their yards and sat at night under the stars, amazed at how dark the skies were and how bright the stars shone with no interference from man-made power.
The first night home I went to sleep dirty and tired with no food. For the first time in weeks I slept the whole night through. The next day clean-up began, but it seemed pointless. There was so much debris and so much work that even ten hours later I had only made a dent in it. That night I was hungry. After dragging over a half ton of limbs to the road I had run out of room to put things so started a fire in the back yard to burn the limbs and cooked dethawing Quorn bacon and newly laid eggs from the chickens over the dying embers.
I sat there in the dark eating and looking at the stars and wondering if I would ever get things back to normal, then thought about what my cousin had said and that maybe this was not really such a bad way to live after all.
After a bath in cold water from a five gallon bucket and brushing my teeth with bottled water, I still felt grubby. I pulled out the cell phone and started checking Facebook and found that many people were just arriving home and assessing the damage. Some had lost cars and roofs. Some had flooding and almost everyone had massive clean-up ahead of them and the danger of more trees falling or getting hurt using chain saws to cut down larger trees, but all were determined to make the most of it, and those who had no damage were offering to help those who did. It was a great reminder of how community still exists and neighbors care for neighbors.
While there were a few ungrateful people who complained about roads being blocked and cable being out and having their food spoil and how the electric company should pay for it, for the most part everyone was appreciative of the simple life and a chance to escape the constant bombardment of advertisements and the temptations of videogames and movies rather than talking to one another and doing things as a family where everyone was focused on everyone else and not on themselves for a change.
When the lights finally did come on, less than one week after the storm, not three, we almost wanted to turn them off again. It was nice to take a hot shower and pop food in the microwave and wash and dry clothes, but it took more mindfulness to fix meals and plan ahead on baths and transportation and there was a sort of excitement to living a bit more rustic life that we were actually a bit sad to see a return to the old normal. It is funny how you adapt to new situations and make the best of them and see the good in them and the good they bring out in you and others.
Coast Guard removes and replaces buoys to prevent them from pulling loose and doing damage
Boy Scout Troop 24 from Montgomery Presbytery church bring chainsaws bags and rakes to help clean up after the storm
While going through a natural disaster isn't really anyone's idea of fun, it does wake you up to what you have been missing
Many people thought really hard about what they would do if their houses and cars were destroyed. It's hard to take a financial blow and live in uncertainty, but for many in war-torn countries and the so-called third world nations where corruption and greed are what drives the ruling forces, this kind of chaos is all they know.
We are so blessed to be able to "get back to normal" new or old as many of these people never will and yet, we all have to admit it was kind of fun having a shared goal with others, working toward the same path, surviving the onslaught and sharing the skills we used to endure and overcome. It brought a bit of excitement into otherwise dull lives.
Many took vacations and did fun things often getting chastised for not taking the storm seriously or having sympathy for those in shelters who couldn't afford to leave town on their own. Others hunkered down with extended family and rode the storm out, emerging to discover a changed world around them and sharing information with those who had left for safer ground while trying to put the pieces back together without government intervention.
It was almost depressing to return to work and school as if nothing had happened. There was something stirring about living the pioneer life and overcoming the odds and cleaning out things we'd always been meaning to clean out but couldn't find the time.
I don't think any of us want to go through another natural disaster any time soon and many are still reeling from the toll the storm took on their lives, but maybe it wouldn't be so bad to have the lights cut off for a while, all electronics put to one side and everyone block off the roads and come outside and greet one another and have a street party and get to see the real world we often pass by on our hurried way to the necessities of modern life.
There's still a lot of work to do. Still a lot to clean up. Trucks now line the street with metal claws grabbing up downed trees and limbs and carting them away. Some entrepreneurs are collecting larger downed trees and turning them into tables and chairs and benches to remember the worst hurricane to hit the coast in decades. It's as if we want a trophy to prove we survived the ordeal.
When you think about it, humans and animals are pretty resilient. How a one pound chicken survived 90 mph winds in a four by three cage is still a wonder to me, with barely any feathers ruffled. Why some houses went untouched and others were demolished is a mystery as well. Maybe it was wind speed and direction or maybe God had a hand in protecting those who prayed relentlessly for safe passage. Maybe it was chance, but i'd like to be thankful we were spared from the worst of it.
In any event, we are back to almost normal once again and await the semblance of life as we knew it with both hope and dread. Maybe it is time to make those changes we have been wanting to make. Maybe this is the incentive we need to clean out all the debris and let new growth take its place. Who knows. Most likely we will all go back to things as normal and patch up our lives as best we can and continue on as if it were a dream.
I still have buckets of water on the back steps and in the bath tub just in case and i now keep gas in the truck as full as finances allow. I hug the horse a little tighter and am constantly amazed at the generosity of others and the rekindling of friendships over our shared experiences.
It's been nearly two weeks since Hurricane Matthew turned our lives all topsy turvy. It's still hot as summer outside, but cool in the mornings and night. Fall is somewhat here and the stores are clearing out chainsaws and tarps and replacing them with pumpkins and Christmas decorations. Life goes on, but the longing to do more and be more and share more with others is something we all hope sticks with us. It makes you really appreciate the things that are important and want to spend more time with those you love, doing what you love to do and encouraging others to hang tough when life gets a little bumpy and look forward to the endless possibilities beyond the eye of the storm.
A week after the storm
One week later, things were starting to return to normal. Gas stations had plenty of gas and ice. Grocery stores reopened and allowed people to use charge cards to purchase food again. The roads were unblocked on major streets and bridges were reopened.
There was still massive damage in spots that would take years to repair. Some national parks along the coast were closed to visitors. People on Tybee Island said the the storm washed more sand up on the beaches rather than eroded them, actually increasing the size of the beach. Limbs and cut up trees still sat too close for comfort on the side of the road making walking and driving a hazard. The mid and downtown areas where all the money is made, were cleared a bit faster, but everyone knows it will take a long time to clear that much debris from the road and from yards. At the very least, it makes for good business with tree trimmers, roof repairs, fence replacement, car repairs, automobile replacement, fast food, ice, generators, chainsaws all a big commodity.
Not surprisingly, liquor stores were some of the first to reopen taking cash only. Many grocery stores had no frozen foods and those that were opened were packed, prompting many to consume canned food a few more days rather than fight the crowds returning to the city. A local garbage company did a pick-up day free for anyone cleaning out the foods from their thawing freezers and condiments like ketchup and mustard and mayonnaise were hot sellers for replacement as well, with mayonnaise still in short supply two weeks later!
Traffic lights were repaired block by block and curfews were lifted allowing people to go out after dark. The all day buzz of chainsaws and droning of utility trucks was replaced with cable and phone companies checking local lines and people started retreating back into their homes with few people walking the streets from place to place anymore. It was almost sad to see.
After a week of cleaning, chopping, pruning and preparing, I was able to bring my horse and goat back to the house. They were unsettled by the changes the hurricane brought to their landscape and sniffed and snorted and walked delicately. We are all still a bit shell-shocked by the changes and when a tree branch cracked from a chain saw, both the the horse and I jumped forward without even thinking. No, we weren't quite over it yet. The first rainfall a few days after the hurricane brought bouts of groans from locals fearing the quick patches on their roofs would not hold and more nasty weather would send leaning trees tumbling.
People who stayed said the winds howled for 12 hours straight, shaking smaller homes and dropping huge limbs that sounded like bombs going off. Transformers blew and sparked and leaves and twigs banged into windows and siding making it impossible to sleep. A very few were injured or killed or had complications from existing health factors, but overall the city of Savannah was blessed and has recovered well, perhaps too well as the hurricane seems like something in our far distant past rather than barely a week old.
As things begin to return to normal and old habits like watching too much television and spending too much time on the computer start to return, it is with regret that we see life return to "normal" and makes us re-evaluate the things that are important. The world is more noisy now that electricity has been restored. We have to think less about how to live and survive and think more about all the things we need to do that now seem more overwhelming than before.
You would think that the more advanced technologically our lives are, the easier things would be, but it often seems to be the opposite. With no distractions and no lights, it was easier not to overeat, easier to go outside and do things rather than sit in a darkened house. Windows and doors opened to allow light and fresh air inside. We chatted with our next door neighbors, we helped others and stopped thinking so much about politics and entertainment and spent more time caring and sharing. It was sad to see it go.
We have to remind ourselves that some people are still coping with the damage from the hurricane and many were hurt worse than we were. Some can't afford to replace the things they lost and others are exhausted from trying to take care of the things they have. It is a work in progress, but we are slowly returning to our old lives and reevaluating what it is we are doing on planet earth and why we are here.
There is the realization that we are all vulnerable to mother nature. We cannot change the path of a hurricane, but maybe we can change our own paths and create less havoc in the world around us and do more to help others than to help ourselves and hurt others by taking more than our share and excusing it as something that makes us great and somehow better than those we take it from.
I think sometimes we are so focused on our own little corner of the world, that we forget how interconnected we are. When you share in a disaster it brings you even closer. We saw a lot of that in people opening up their homes and giving us a place to stay, even though it threw their own lives out of balance and made more work for them. We saw it in people stopping in little towns outside Savannah, sharing stories of blessings and protection from the storm as it pounded the shore and in store clerks offering encouragement and direction on where to find scare goods.
Yes, the storm did a lot of damage to a lot of people and took a lot of lives on the islands before it struck the US, but maybe in an odd sort of way that can lead us to making a greater effort to protect the people who need protecting the most and bring hope to those who feel like life has knocked them for a loop from which there is no way to recover.
Things are not exactly the same after the hurricane, but maybe that is a good thing. Maybe we need that to remind us how things change for better or worse and how God is always with us through good times and bad and that we need to rely on him, not just our own abilities and do more to help others even if it is on a small scale.
Instead of looting and rioting and angry people demanding their power be turned on right this minute, we had people thankful for the help of outside power companies, neighbors helping neighbors and sharing resources and people giving all they had to give to help others rather than take advantage of them. In a way people's hope in the kindness of others was restored just as the power and access to roadways was restored and in the grand scheme of things that should make us all thankful that we live in a world where goodness helps us weather all storms and makes life better even if there is a struggle to maintain any sense of what is normal.
For many, life will still be a struggle. There will still be things that stress us to the max. Finances may be a worry, but they shouldn't overwhelm us or make us blind to the fact that we are blessed no matter what our situation. Hurricanes are noisy beasts that threaten to destroy the old normal, but maybe that's not such a bad idea. Maybe now that the forest has been thinned, we can more easily see what lies on the horizon and can focus more on important goals and less on daily stressors that we allow to overwhelm us and really aren't that bad in the grand scheme of things.
In any event, we are back on track to life as we knew it with renewed effort to make a difference in our being here. We ask less if people stayed or went or if they had damage and ask more how their kids are doing and if they plan to go to the theater, the ball game or the park this weekend to enjoy an event.
Many of us feel as if we need to stay in the grieving process to show solidarity with those who were hurt, while others act as if it is all over and no longer has importance in their lives. I suppose above all it shows how where our focus lies and what we see is important.