Life after a hurricane isn't as easy as picking up where you left off. You must dig deep within you and pull up every bit of tolerance, patience, resilience, fortitude, and kindness to get through.
Friday night we go to bed with the rain pelting angrily at our windows.
We wake up on Saturday morning to a room that is dark and soundless as a cave. The storm wore itself out, but in its wake, it left us without power. The question of what we'll find worries us.
Life after a hurricane challenges tolerance
Suddenly a cacophony of barking dogs breaks the quiet. Honey gets out of bed and goes to the window. "What the. . . There must be dozens of dogs out there. Sheesh! (I clean up the language) People have two and three dogs. Some look like ponies!"
"I guess this motel allows pets," I say, which is a dumb thing to say since it's obvious.
He keeps watching the chaos outside. Then he says in disgust, "When we go to the car, we'd better watch where we step. The owners are not leading the dogs to the grass."
Not only do people have to tolerate a parking lot obstacle course made up of dog gifts, but also cats and dogs running amok in the hallways.
Life after a hurricane demands patience
We don't have power, but fortunately, we do have water. Caravans of Georgia power trucks, military personnel, County, City, and State Law Enforcement come together to offer assistance.
George and Debbie, friends from Saint Simons who have a room across the hall from us, come over to ask if we heard anything about Saint Simons Island. Nobody seems to know anything. We are completely in the dark. No radio. No television. We can't even get a station on the car radio. Everything is down.
Debbie turns to me, "Let's go find something to eat. I hear Publix is open; they have a generator. Maybe they'll have sandwiches."
Nobody said that life after a hurricane is a breeze or how quickly a person can return to normalcy.
Life after a hurricane commands resilience
Time after time Debbie turns the car around; humongous live oak or pine tree block the street. Finally, we find an open road; we take it only to find a long line of stopped cars impeding our progress. We crane our necks to see the reason for the bottleneck. It's the Georgia State Patrol refusing drivers access into Brunswick and making them turn around.
A pickup truck pulls up beside us, the driver gets out and walks up to the closest Police Officer. The man, his arms on his hips, leans forward toward the officer, he's talking a mile a minute. The officer shakes her head no. He turns and storms towards us. As he nears, Debbie asks, "What's going on?"
"They won't let me get back to my house; they won't let anyone into Brunswick," he says angrily. "I stayed in Brunswick for the whole damn storm. This morning, I needed a power cord for my phone; I went to my friend's house. Now, they," he shoots the officers a dirty look, "won't let me go back to my house!" He looks down at his wrinkled jeans and t-shirt. "This is all I have with me. What am I supposed to do? I don't have money for a motel!"
He leaves and gets into his pickup truck.
Life after a hurricane forces you to pick yourself up and keep trying.
Life after a hurricane requires fortitude
The four of us sit in our motel room and try to strategize. What are we going to do for food? The window is open, and a cool breeze is blowing. George and Honey sniff once. They sniff again. Debbie and I sniff. Charcoal! Grilled food!
We look out the open window and see a man with a large barrel grill in a far parking lot. "I think we're back in business," says Honey.
Debbie and I grab our purses and hot-foot it to the man selling the food. Oh! It smells heavenly. We take our grilled chicken and barbecued ribs back to our rooms to savor. It isn't as good as our chicken and ribs, but we're grateful for food and shelter.
Sunday dawns and we still don't have power. We're very anxious for news of Saint Simons, no-one is reporting anything. George and Debbie are impatient to get back, both of them are in the midst of a tragedy. The week before George lost his brother in a car accident, and during the storm, Debbie's mother passed away. They need to make funeral arrangements and are helpless to do so.
Life after a hurricane is a test on one's nerves. It's a waiting game.
Life after a hurricane dictates kindness
Everywhere we turn, we see evidence of charitable and generous acts. Restaurants give away meals. Stores, when they do open, give away ice and water. So many step up to the plate to help in any way they can.
We hear stories of evacuees parked in fields and parking lots, stranded with nowhere to go. Good Samaritans seek out these places to deliver meals, baby wipes, water, etc.
A neighbor helps a neighbor; a stranger helps a stranger. We're all in this together.
Life after a hurricane squeezes out the best or the worst in people. What we witness is a generosity of spirit.
Life after a hurricane compels gratitude
Monday morning we finally get power back in our room. We're still on tenterhooks. When are they going to let us return? We worry about the house, the power, and the water. We have quite a few sea trout and flounder fillet packages in the freezer. Before we evacuated, Honey put the frozen fillets in our red dishpan in the case of power failure.
Later that day, we hear that noon on Tuesday they'll allow residents onto Saint Simons Island. We are still living on cold meals.
We're ready by 7:30 Tuesday morning. At 11:15 our car is on the Causeway heading toward Saint Simons Island; we breathe a sigh of relief!
We drive on King's Way and observe the ancient live oaks that are off the road and cut up. Spanish moss still litters the ground. When we turn onto our street, we hold our breath.
We see the house and sigh in relief. Except for a few pine cones and small branches, it's as if the storm never existed. We go through all the rooms. It's just like we left it, including the frozen flounder and sea trout fillets.
We offer up prayers of thanks.
Honey turns to me, grins, and asks, "What's for dinner?"
Our life after a hurricane returns to normal.
Usual activity on Saint Simons Sound resumes.
Now, what do you think we'll have as our first entree back??
A Hot Meal! What Did We Choose?
Was is beef, pork, chicken, or seafood?
Un caro saluto e alla prossima.