As I worried about passing my sign language test and trying to master it, there was a storm brewing in the coast. That storm was called Irma and little did I know a week later how much destruction she would cause in a city, a town, a state, or a coast I call home. My mom had been urging me all week to get prepared and so I spent an ungodly amount of broke college student dollars on junk food just to please her nerves. I debated on how much water to get for what seemed like an eternity and traveled to a few stores for this necessity that seemed like a rarity. Even though I am one of those people that they make a meme about insinuating I live on everything, but water that's why I bought a bunch of juice. To be honest, this all felt like a joke until my sister called me Thursday asking what life possessions I couldn't live without. The reality of this storm quickly sunk in as my nerves began to freak and I realized the seriousness. I prayed to the Lord that the storm would bypass my little town and find some way to come to Valdosta. Even though I was not ready for it, I knew I could handle it more than my family who struggles as it is.
To the irony of my prayers the storm had shifted west and was headed directly for Valdosta. WOW! I quickly started preparing for the worst by buying more water and encouraging all my friends to get the heck out of dodge. I kept thinking I can take this, I'll have a home to go to and my family in Jacksonville will be okay. I encouraged a bunch of my friends to stay with me so I would not be alone and we had a stock pile of food fit for an extreme couponer. The night of the storm I stayed up all night and yes Valdosta got hit, but nothing like expected. My side of campus had power the entire time while others' were not so lucky. We lucked out pretty well for someone who was supposed to get hit head on. A lot of fellow Valdosta students kept saying how they felt like they got cheated, then I was reminded of my little hometown and how they were not as lucky. Camden was not even really in the path, but because of the storm surges it was too much for them to take. So my fellow Valdosta students trust me, I know it's annoying we still have to go to class and did not experience the end of the world, but at least you have a home to go home to and power to turn on.
Not everyone was as lucky as me. I feel like God knew how much I hate storms and magically made the eye circle around us causing not much to even hinder my college. So many people lost everything Sunday and Monday. So many still without power and nearly going insane. Let us not forget all the people in Houston who are still salvaging the life they used to live. All I can say is we survived as a nation, we all band together, some evacuated, some hunkered down, but in the end, we all woke up Tuesday morning to sunshine and reminded life does go on. Irma does not define our future, but is only a small segment of setback for who you are to become.
My heart is still breaking about how in shambles every place I have grown to love the past ten years is. From St Augustine to up and down the coast of Georgia and everywhere in between, I have so many cherished memories of places that are now ruble. The Lord is still good and we will come back stronger than ever before because as some would say we are the south ain't nobody going to tear us down, not even a hurricane. Just like we come together for Friday Night Lights we will ban together through all of this people will open their homes for neighbors, clothe those who are without it, and feed those who are without food. I pray the Lord softens the heart of those who want to be greedy and remember that he provided them to be safe, but the Lord can easily take away like has been shown with Irma. Men and women have been working from sun up to sun down nonstop to make places of destruction feel like a home again or a place of hope for the future. Have faith the power will come back on, you will get your home repaired, but it starts with showing encouragement and not complaining. I have no doubt that the hearts of many may be aching, but my God is so greater than any of this and he will shine through the darkest of pains.
"Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me, for in you my soul takes refuge. I will take refuge in the shadow of your wings until the disaster has passed. I cry out to God Most High, to God, who fulfills his purposes for me."