I had my first cup of coffee at 3:24 this afternoon. Normally, I would consider this a tragedy, but not today. Of course, like most, I enjoy a steaming hot cup of coffee to start my day. There’s nothing quite like the aroma of freshly brewed beans to wake up the senses. Add in the tasty array of flavored creamers and what more could you ask for? As that first sip makes it’s way through your lips and hits your tongue, you feel like you could accomplish almost anything.
Today was a little out of the ordinary. Yesterday, we experienced weather like nothing I’d ever seen, at least in person. Yesterday, Hurricane Irma hit Florida. We lost power around 1:00 this morning. Sleep was extremely elusive, due to the loud winds and the rain that battered at the windows all night. I was up many times, checking on my kids and the house. I think I drifted off on the couch one last time, around 5:00 AM and was back up at 7-ish. All I could think about was COFFEE! Then it hit me, the electricity was still out. No way to brew that heavenly drink I so desperately longed for. To make matters worse, the city was practically shut down, so there was not a store open anywhere. I realized I was not getting my coffee any time soon.
Once I accepted the fact that coffee would have to come later, I splashed a little water on my face and began to inspect the house for any damage. I started in the kids’ rooms; 1) to make sure they were okay and 2) to make sure that no water made it’s way through the windows or ceilings. They were still sleeping peacefully and not a drop of water on anything. After surveying the inside, I stepped outside to check the trees and roof. The rain had stopped, but the wind was still blowing forcefully. I was happy to see that our roof was in tact and not a shingle was missing. I stepped out back and noticed that one of our smaller trees was leaning at a forty-five degree angle and a much larger tree, next to the pond belonging to the adjoining community, was beginning to crack. I knew, without a doubt, that tree was coming down any minute. All I could think was how fortunate we were that the tree was leaning away from our house and not towards it. Ten minutes later, my psychic abilities proved true; the tree fell.
Once I realized the disaster we had avoided, I did something I should have done before even thinking about coffee… I prayed. I was overcome with the thought of possibilities, the thought of what could have happened. I had prayed the night before, I had asked God to keep His hand of protection around everyone in the midst of this storm and I had faith He would answer my prayers. But yet, this morning, I hadn’t bothered to thank Him. I stopped, then and there, dropped to my knees and cried out to God in thanksgiving.
Now, it was time to check in with the neighbors. Thank God (again) that my iPad was fully charged. We have a residents’ page on Facebook and everyone was sharing pictures and information. I was relieved to see that the damage to our streets and homes was minimal. What made me happy was the sense of family that was evident in every post and comment. We are part of an amazing community. Neighbors who truly care and look out for each other, neighbors who are willing to help with anything; anytime. Again, I was feeling extremely blessed!
Others weren’t so fortunate. The damage and destruction caused by Irma was felt throughout the entire state. There is damage to property caused by wind, debris and fallen trees. There is flooding in varying degrees in different parts of my city. People I know and love and absolute strangers have lost so much. My sympathy goes out to all of them.
Neighbors grouped together Monday on Jewell Road to cut apart this tree that had falledn at 7:30 a.m. and pulled down power lines. (Dan Scanlan/Florida Times-Union)
With everything going on in the last few days, the fact that today is September 11th hasn’t escaped my memory. Sixteen years ago, we experienced another devastation. The only difference is, today’s catastrophe was an act of nature. September 11, 2001 was an act of terror carried out by man. Either way, there are lifetime affects that all of us will have to deal with. Please pray for Florida, pray for the American people and please pray for our country.
It’s sad that it often takes a tragedy to put things in perspective. This morning, all I could think about was coffee. Tonight, I’m reminded of how important it is to always count your blessings. Tell loved ones how much they mean to you. And always, always remember to thank God for all He gave and continues to give to all of us.