Outside my window right now, a fairly stiff breeze is blowing. This morning, it set up a pretty good rattle in the trees a few times. That’s the kind of sound I love, a sound from my childhood. In a way, it usually comforts me. But this morning, it’s a call to prayer. The very outer reaches of Sandy are brushing past us. No rain for us and no more than a few heavy duty wind gust. Nothing like what is facing the coast and the Northeast over the coming days. Many are praying right now, and God hears that. I know that He is already at work.
The thing I want to remind you of is this… Don’t stop when Sandy passes. See, in something like this, the worst of the storm comes in the aftermath, after many have ceased praying and moved on with their lives. Everyone remembers Hurrican Katrina. But few outside of North Carolina speak of Floyd.
Floyd hit North Carolina in 1999, a huge hurricane that, not unlike Sandy, was not a monster so much in terms of wind but in terms of size… and of rain. The storm passed over NC and moved on, but it was a couple of days before the horror for those in eastern Carolina really began. The runoff from a foot of rain took some time to hit the rivers, and when it did, a large chunk of eastern North Carolina flooded. Suddenly. People went to bed as usual only to be awakened in the middle of the night by water lapping at their doorsteps.
We lived in Michigan at the time, and my grandmother had come to visit. I will never forget sitting in our living room, watching Floyd news coverage, when she suddenly sat straight up and pointed at the TV. “That’s your mother’s house.” There, on national television, up to its windows in water, was my mom’s house. My grandmother left the next day to fly home and help my mother the only way she could… with her presence.
The devastation was immense… and it was only beginning. I can only speak to my mother’s story, but she had to canoe into her house to rescue what she could. And once the flood waters receded, she was left with a reeking, poisonous mess. Floodwaters go away, but they don’t leave pristine clean behind. They leave mud, dirt, human and animal waste and decay. Filth. Sludge. Rot.
What the water miraculously didn’t touch, humid air molded. I have a picture of her standing in her front yard in front of a pile of debris, staring at the water-logged Bible in her hands. She was essentially left with nothing. She, and many others, became ill with lung infections from the mold and the raw sewage in the water. And the psychological effects lingered. For years, she tried to figure out what life was with home and possessions gone. She had to figure out who she was when she had no physical things to call her own. Every time we went shopping anywhere for a decade after, she searched for a pea coat to replace the one destroyed in the flood. It was a symbol of all she’d lost. Something, anything, to reconnect her to what used to be.
So, please. When Sandy’s winds and rains stop… Don’t stop praying. For some, this is only the beginning of a long, hard road certainly not of their choosing. And they’ll need prayers more than ever when the sun starts to shine again… but it shines on a whole different world.