When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you.
The day began like many other August days in South Florida—rainy, humid, and clammy. Floridians pay attention to weather reports from June until December with a special uneasiness, knowing that the “big one” could come at any time. Nancy and I were no different, having experienced many hurricanes during our childhood. But on this particular August day, we were only watching a tropical storm that had formed days earlier and was now moving our way.
We had recently moved into a home situated on a couple of acres in what Miamians would consider “country.” It proved a slow process with two young children and home improvements under way, so most of our belongings were packed in moving boxes stacked in the garage.
As the rain continued to fall over the course of the morning, Nancy put mats at all the entrance ways to protect our new carpeting. Around noon, we looked out at the backyard and noticed a lot of puddling. After lunch, we observed that the puddles had grown into ponds. I began taking sorties with my ruler to the back of our property to measure the depth of the accumulating water. As the day progressed and the rain showed no sign of letting up, the ponds began to connect, and by nightfall we were looking at a lake.
With the darkness came heavier rain. The local weather report informed us that the tropical storm had stalled over us. Nancy and I both sensed that we were facing a long night with an uncertain outcome. We stopped and prayed. Next, we put together a just-in-case plan that involved protecting the legs of our furniture and moving anything we could lift to a higher area. Sadly, the water had already flooded our garage and was rising quickly. There was little we could do to save any of the boxes, which held family heirlooms, wedding and family pictures, and all those memory-filled possessions that accumulate throughout the years of marriage.
We worked until midnight, taking breaks to measure how many inches remained before the water entered the house itself. About one o’clock in the morning, we both fixes our eyes at the base of the front door. It’s hard to describe how we felt at that moment; the only word that comes to mind is defeated. As the water began to soak into the carpet, we walked to our bedroom and collapsed on the bed, exhausted and numb.
The following morning we splashed through the house and gathered what few belonging we could carry as the company I worked for came to evacuate us. The news reported that up to 25 inches of rain had fallen in our area the previous day and night. As we waded through what was once our front yard, we noticed that our personal vehicles were submerged up to their windows. No matter what direction we turned, the only thing in sight was devastation. Little did we know in this depressing moment how the adversity of this event would shape our lives well into the future.
To be continued. . .