Summary: Why are some of us spared during natural disasters while others seem to have so much loss? Why does God bless us and not others?
Though I grew up on the Texas Gulf coast, and lived here most of my life, except when I was in the Navy and the first 12 years I was in the ministry, this was the first time that I evacuated for a hurricane and it actually hit, leaving real impact close to where I lived. Living in Houston and Pasadena, we never evacuated for a hurricane, though some of my earliest memories were leaving home in a boat during Hurricane Carla. I just didn’t seem necessary. When Rita came three years ago, we did evacuate from Santa Fe, still, in many ways for Santa Fe, being on the “clean” side of the storm and the strike being even further up the coast, the impact on us was minimal.
Friday of last week, as we were watching coverage of Ike’s approach on either channel 11 or the Weather Channel, and seeing the rising storm serge on Galveston Island, and even more at Surf Side, it was very surreal. I knew my home, my work, and Cindy’s work were all there and yet we were miles away in Katy. I was concerned about things, but not so much about what I might find when I came home. I was concerned for people, for you folks and for folks Cindy and I know on Galveston Island and over in Galveston County. I wasn’t worried, I was concerned. At least for me there is a difference.
For perhaps the first time in our married life, Cindy was worried. That is one of the things that made things so surreal. I am the worrier, not Cindy. And friends, Cindy doesn’t worry often, but when she does worry, she really worries.
The night the storm hit, we both slept through most of it. That surprised me. I usually don’t sleep through things like that, but this time I did. When I got up the next morning, we still had power at Jay’s house, though it went off within an hour and we began listening to storm coverage on the radio. The next thing I knew I was waking up in a recliner and everyone else was eating breakfast.
It wasn’t long before the storm passed and the power came back on. We ventured outside. There were a few downed tree limbs and lots of pine needles all over the place but things weren’t bad in Jay’s neighborhood. We went up to his church and did some light clean-up work there. They had a few roof leaks, but that was the extent of it.
Sunday afternoon Cindy and I came down to check on the parsonage and both churches. We were pleasantly surprised by what we found. Though we didn’t have power, everything else seemed to be in order. There was light damage, but nothing bad.
We went back to Katy to make a plan. On Monday we went and bought a few things not knowing what we could get here and we came home. As I was driving home, knowing that when I got back to Freeport I was going to still have a house and my things were still going to be there, both of my churches and the communities where they are seemed to be in good shape, I started thinking about how blessed I am, how blessed we all are, following Ike’s visit on our area.
By that point I had seen news pictures of Galveston Island, the Bolivar Peninsula, and the Golden Triangle. I kept thinking, we are without power, but things could be so much worse. We are blessed. Oh, how we are blessed.
When we got back home we were blessed again. When I walked in the front door I heard the hum of the refrigerator. I knew we had power once again.
Tuesday I went out, by myself at first, but later in the day Cindy went with me, to check on many of you. No, I didn’t make it everywhere, but I did make it out I think to most of the communities where we have members. As I visited with folks, and even more folks since then, I heard time after time, people saying exactly what I had been saying on my way home on Monday, “we are so blessed.” They were echoing the same thoughts that I had said to myself and to Cindy the day before.
I can’t argue with that at all. I understand those sentiments but since that time, since I have watched more television coverage, since I have heard more stories of people who have lost everything, I have been plagued by a thought again and again. “Why in such a tragic, devastating event am I and those around me so blessed and at the same time so many others so devastated by these events. They, it would seem, are anything but blessed. In particular, when I consider the people of the Bolivar Peninsula and over into the Beaumont-Port Arthur area, Ike isn’t the first storm to hit them in recent years, or for that matter, even this year. For some, it has been their fourth hit in the last three years. Think about that for a minute. There was Rita three years ago. There was Humberto last year. This year there was Eduard just a few weeks ago and now Ike. I don’t think those folks feel very blessed. Some of them might even shout out at the top of their lungs, “I don’t need any more blessing.”