“All of a sudden, the power goes out. I take a peek outside and it is gushing rain, to the point where my street is covered in two feet of water,” TPS student Webley recalls from a time in second grade when a hurricane hit near her home. “Eventually our neighbors come outside, with their canoe. I hop into the canoe and we start paddling through our street.”
Does this experience resonate with you? It certainly would for many people who are still reeling from the catastrophic effects of multiple hurricanes in areas of the United States and the Caribbean. First, there’s Hurricane Harvey, which made landfall on August 25th and “busted the U.S. record for rainfall from a single storm, dumping 51 inches of rain in parts of Texas,” says CNN.
Texan TPS student Carter shares, “The Monday after the storm hit, our street flooded and the water level started coming up into the yards (within the hour, the street went from being empty to completely underwater…). We moved all the large piece of furniture downstairs up onto bricks…and then all the small pieces we took and stacked upstairs. We watched it through the night to see what would happen.” Victoria, another TPSer from Texas, discusses her experience from a different perspective: “Our area was unaffected by flooding; we had a lot of rain, but our neighborhood has a stellar drainage system which held surprisingly well…Stores in the area didn’t take it so well. Even Walmart worked only during the day, and my mom said that at one point some supermarkets had lines of people waiting outside.”
Just five days later, Hurricane Irma swept its disastrous way through the Caribbean and on to Florida, knocking out power for millions of people and causing severe flooding all the way up to South Carolina.
Floridian TPS student Jacey says, “We experienced A LOT of rain…to the point where water was pouring into our house from the floor boards, windows, doors, and an electrical outlet. Good thing my mom had the ingenious idea of duct-taping my brother’s diapers to the leaks or we would have been sloshing around in puddles all night… The rain also created a minor flood outside of our neighborhood that we had to drive over every time we wanted to leave our house.” In Cassie’s region, “Many of the traffic lights and fences were destroyed, and lots of trees and foliage were uprooted and scattered everywhere.” Rachel shares that the damage wasn’t too bad in her area, “but some houses had their shingles torn off, trees fell over, and plants were destroyed. We did have power outages, and all of the stores were closed, so we couldn’t get supplies for around two days.”
Other tropical storms have followed Harvey and Irma. Jose snaked threateningly up the East Coast, switching from a tropical storm to a hurricane and finally back to tropical storm status, washing the New England coast with surf and rip currents. Katia hit the coast of Mexico, an unfortunate follow-up to an earthquake in the area. Lee nearly dissolved, then stirred itself up again deep in the Atlantic. Similarly, Norma spent itself in the Pacific without causing harm. Hurricane Maria increased to a Category 5 storm, making 2017 the first hurricane season with two Category 5 storms in a decade. It severely damaged some Caribbean islands (especially Puerto Rico, Dominica, St. Croix, and St. Thomas) and showered heavy rain on still more. Then Maria headed up to the Eastern Coast of the U. S. as a tropical storm, flooding beaches in North Carolina and southeastern Virginia before starting to slant back out to sea.
What can you do if a hurricane is projected to hit your area?
Kalijah from Florida says her family “prepared by putting shutters on all of our windows so that the glass wouldn’t break. We also bought a lot of food and water to prepare for the storm.” Carter recommends having lots of food, water, and ice ready and being prepared to move furniture. Victoria let her teachers know she might not be able to attend class and made sure she had productive things to do without Internet. Jacey’s family put bags of sand in front of their doors and windows to keep water from coming in, but Rachel’s family had to use bags of topsoil–the sandbags were completely sold out!
Also, Victoria shares, “God is with you through every storm. Living through the week of Harvey was hard for me emotionally; knowing that I’m fine and thousands of people in my home city aren’t and wondering why this had to happen to my home was difficult. But I think I learned that God had a purpose for it; there was so much goodness within that tragedy.” Similarly, Jacey counsels: “Use this hurricane as an opportunity to learn more about your family and how you yourself handle stress. Use this hurricane to mature in your faith and trust in the Lord. Use this hurricane to support friends who are going through similar crises. Use this hurricane as a chance to have ‘fun’ camping out in your laundry room and spending the night taping diapers to your walls. Whatever the result, don’t waste this blessing in disguise, since we know that there is a reason and a purpose behind it. Make the most out of this hopefully rare experience!”
God is our strength and refuge, a very present help in trouble. Therefore, we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling. -Psalm 46:1-3
Hurricane Harvey Aftermath: the devastation, by the numbers. http://www.cnn.com/specials/us/hurricane-harvey
Tropical Storm Jose is bringing dangerous surf, rip currents, and wind to the East Coast. http://www.businessinsider.com/hurricane-jose-path-update-track-east-coast-2017-9
Hurricane Katia strikes Mexico, killing at least two, while the nation still reels from a massive earthquake. http://www.latimes.com/world/mexico-americas/la-fg-mexico-earthquake-20170909-story.html
Past Storm Lee. https://www.accuweather.com/en/hurricane/atlantic/lee-2017
“Extremely dangerous” Hurricane Maria churns toward Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico; Jose to scrape Northeast coast. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/capital-weather-gang/wp/2017/09/18/intensifying-hurricane-maria-is-a-severe-threat-to-caribbean-and-puerto-rico-jose-to-scrape-northeast-coast/?utm_term=.0bedf23e96aa
Maria, again a hurricane, swirls over North Carolina beaches. http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/north-carolina-latest-suffer-2017-hurricane-season-50122452
Psalm 46:1-3. https://www.blueletterbible.org/esv/psa/46/1/s_524001
Special thanks to TPS students Webley, Carter, Victoria, Jacey, Rachel, Cassie, Kalijah, and Marlee for all their help with this article!