Hurricane Matthew Reminded Me of What’s Important
Our Hurricane Story
Just 5 days ago, here in coastal Georgia, we were hit by Hurricane Matthew. I want to share with you (my readers) a few pictures from my yard and some reflections on my experience.
First of all, let me explain how we ended up staying at our house in Savannah, rather than obeying Governor Deal’s mandatory evacuation order.
You see, Mr. B. recently had major surgery (thankfully successful) and is currently recuperating. So, he was in no condition to travel several hours by car. Simultaneously, my 97-year-old mother’s assisted living facility did evacuate, and I chose to bring her to my house rather than have her endure a long, exhausting journey aboard a charter bus to Macon, GA (3 hours away under perfect conditions but much longer in an evacuation).
So, there we were: the three of us in the middle of a hurricane.
All through Friday night and the early morning hours of Saturday, Hurricane Matthew raged loud, ugly, and scary outside the house. The wind roared like a freight train. We heard tree branches (and one entire tree) hitting our roof. We lost electrical power at 1:17 a.m. on Saturday.
Thankfully, we are all safe and sound, and our house suffered only minor damage from the falling trees and branches.
Before and After Pictures: The Front Yard
Here are two “before” pictures of our front yard. I shared these with you in my August 16 post: “Curb Appeal: The Mulch Project.”
Now, take a look at our front yard AFTER Hurricane Matthew.
It’s quite a mess, isn’t it?
Let’s move to the backyard.
Before and After Pictures: The Backyard
First, let me show you a couple of “before” photos. These pics come from my September 11 post: “Late Summer Container Flowers and Refurbished Plant Hangers.”
Next: some photos of our backyard after Hurricane Matthew.
The Story Continues
For most of the day on Saturday, our neighborhood was like a ghost town. Only a few neighbors had stayed behind during the evacuation.
Because our neighborhood is situated at the confluence of two rivers and bounded by marshland, it has only one road in/out, and that road was blocked during the hurricane by huge, fallen trees.
Thankfully, the road into our neighborhood was cleared (at least one narrow lane) by work crews on Saturday afternoon. So, we were longer cut off from the world.
We kept our refrigerator going with a small, gasoline-powered Honda generator.
An Emergency Situation
Then, at 4:30 a.m. on Sunday morning, my mother had an episode of extreme shortness of breath. Because she was gasping for air, I called 911. Two paramedics arrived via ambulance in just a few minutes, having driven through the dark, debris-strewn roadways to our house.
At that time, all electrical power was still cut off due to downed power lines. I followed the ambulance to the hospital in my car through dark, eerily silent streets with no traffic lights, street lights, or any signs of life.
The hospital was on lock-down, but the emergency room was open and the facility was running on a generator. Nurses, technicians, and doctors were working around the clock, sleeping at the hospital and staying in place until the hurricane crisis was over.
These dedicated medical professionals treated my mother, and she was discharged after 7 hours in the ER.
Rays of Hope
Upon returning home with my mother from the hospital, I experienced two welcome rays of hope that things would soon return to normal.
First, I discovered our electrical power was back on!!!! Yay! Our neighborhood was among the first to have power restored (after about 36 hours). As I write this post today (5 days later), some neighborhoods in our area are still without power.
The second ray of hope appeared with two young neighbors, John and Mike. When I pulled my car into the driveway, upon returning from the hospital with my mother, I discovered John and Mike in my front yard with a chain saw, rakes, and a leaf blower. They had cleared my front yard of fallen debris and stacked it at the curb for removal. What a blessing!
So . . . What’s Important?
This is the part where I want to convey to you my most important impressions from the whole Hurricane Matthew experience:
First, it’s important that I came in contact with an enormous outpouring of energy and human kindness on the part of so many people responding in amazing ways to the crisis.
Secondly, it’s important that I am extraordinarily grateful to so many awesome people in our community (and those who came from outside our area to help) for the tremendous work that has been done and that continues today.
Here is a brief (and inadequate) list of those for whom I am thankful.
- Work crews cutting and removing downed trees to open up roadways.
- Electrical power company employees from our area (and the many who came in from outside) who have worked long, hard hours to restore power.
- Local TV station personnel who stayed on-air around the clock bringing information and advice to those of us who stayed behind, as well as those who had evacuated. After the power went out, their reporting was still available via apps on my phone.
- Our mayor and emergency management team members who made smart decisions and communicated effectively with citizens.
- The EMT’s who drove their ambulance through dangerous conditions when I called regarding my mother’s medical emergency.
- Nurses, technicians, doctors, and other employees at the hospital who stayed in place for days to treat my mother and other patients with medical emergencies.
- Police and National Guard personnel who tirelessly directed traffic at intersections with no electrical power for traffic lights while evacuees poured back into town on Monday and Tuesday.
- Grocery store employees who worked like crazy to re-stock shelves for evacuees needing to replace food that had spoiled in the absence of refrigeration.
- Good neighbors who checked on us to see if we were Okay. And, of course, John and Mike who cleared a massive amount of debris from our front yard.
Takeaways from this Experience
I know that I lead a blessed life. I am retired from my profession; therefore, my time is my own to spend as I please. On a normal day, I might be working on a craft project, planting flowers, or practicing music on the organ or piano.
When a crisis comes, all sense of normalcy evaporates.
But, it is in a crisis that I am most in awe of our amazing infrastructure of capable personnel who answer the call to help others.
In the future, whenever I remember Hurricane Matthew, I will remember those wonderful people and all that they did for me and others in our community.
Enjoy Life Creatively!