Hurricane Irene barrels up the East Coast as I write. All my friends who live there are on my heart. Here on the Gulf Coast, the threat of hurricanes is part of the fabric of life. During hurricane season – June 1 to November 30 – the weatherman mentions “the tropics” in each and every newscast. Even if there’s not a wave or wisp of wind out in the Gulf, he might say, “It’s quiet today out in the tropics.” And they’ll show the radar to prove it. We get flyers in the mail instructing and encouraging us to be prepared. Organizations host hurricane preparedness seminars. We can sign up for weather alerts on our cell phones or buy special weather radios. It’s everywhere. A part of life.
But that doesn’t make a direct threat any less scary or stressful. We moved here in 2007, so we didn’t experience Hurricane Rita in 2005. (Katrina hit New Orleans – other side of the state. Rita slammed into southwest Louisiana a few weeks later.) Even though six years have passed, local folks still shudder at the mention of Rita’s name. (Read Rita anniversary post here.) I’ve naturally absorbed some of that dread. Hurricanes Gustav and Ike came back to back in the fall of 2008. I remember well the fear, like carrying a heavy weight of impending doom in my chest, as we boarded up, packed up (we evacuated for Gustav) or stocked up and hunkered down (staying put for Ike). So much anxiety and uncertainty. My eyes were glued to the TV, watching the angry red swirl inching closer and closer. I recall praying every waking moment, reading the Psalms for comfort.
I looked in my journal from those dates and found this passage from Isaiah.
Isaiah 41:10,13 Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. For I am the Lord, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.
Take care, East Coast readers. May God’s love and power be a shield around you.