As I sit down to write this post we are preparing for Tropical Storm Hanna, which should arrive sometime this evening. (9/5/08) It has already started to rain, and it is anticipated that the rains will be quite heavy at times, combined with heavy winds, etc. We have already shopped for all of the essentials, including extra batteries and canned foods in case we lose power. We are perhaps a little over cautious, but having survived Hurricane Isabel in 2003 we feel it's better to err on the side of caution.
Having come from New York to North Carolina, it was our first experience with a hurricane, and we were suitibly humbled by the experience. Isabel made landfall a little south and west of Edenton and was a category 3 storm when it hit. By the time it reached our home it had subsided to a category 2. I can't imagine the strength of a more powerful storm. We were lucky, in part, because it hit during the day. We had been told that they usually hit at night.
As we huddled at our kitchen table and listened to the winds, we were at least able to look out the windows on ocassion, and see that the world was still around us. I was convinced of the awesome power of those winds when I looked out one time and saw a pine tree in our front yard snapped in two about 6' off the ground. This was a massive tree. with a trunk about 5' in diameter, and it had stood about 30' - 40' in the air. And there it was like a twig, broken in two, and we hadn't even heard it because of the deafening winds.
Well, we spent just about the entire day like that, listening to our battery powered radio - we lost power very early on in the day - and hearing what sounded like rocks hitting our roof (pine cones), and then the sound of shingles popping off the roof, literaly sucked off by the winds. By the time it all calmed down it was too late to venture out, as the entire town was without power. The following morning broke clear and sunny and we were able to survey the damage.
We had lost a couple of trees, and later had to take a couple more down. We had lost quite a few shingles from the roof, but it was intact with no stuctural damage. Our home is high enough in elevation that we had no flooding, but we lost our water to the house during the course of the day. The tempertures rose, we had no power, couldn't take a shower, and couldn't cook on our electric stove. Completely uncomfortable, and with the task of cleaning all of the debris in the yard the next day, we called it quit's for the day. (As the General Manager of the cable company at the time, I of course worked a 12-14 hour day there to begin the process of restoring the cable system.)
In the midst of all of this we had, and found, plenty to be grateful for. We cooked a can of Chef Boyardee Ravioli on the patio grill for supper, and I have to tell you that it tasted better than a steak that night. We stepped outside later to a clear cloudless night, and with no street or house lights, we had the clearest view of the stars I've ever seen; you could actually see the bands of the Milky Way. This view was much better than any television show we might have been tempted to watch had we had electricity.
Our son came down from New York to spend some time and to give us a hand with the clean up around the house. We enjoyed, and were grateful, for his help and his company. With no power we sat around, talked, played cards, and just generally enjoyed each others company at the end of the day.
Even with trees coming down, leaning, losing branches, etc. we sustaind no serious damage to the house except for the shingleing. Our water service was restored after about a week and a half, and everyone enjoyed their first shower in that same time. We had sponge bathed of course, but a shower now seemed a luxury, and we were grateful. Our electricity was restored shortly before that and we could now cook a complete meal.
While several homes in the area sustained major damage, the community was amazed that there hadn't been more, and with the exception of one storm related death, there were no serious injuries sustained by antone. This included the massive numbers of electrical contractors, tree crews, and roofers who responded to the needs of the area and it's homeowners.
So, even in the face of all of this tumult, destruction and cayous, there were plenty of reasons to be grateful. Of all of those I think I was most grateful for that first simple meal of ravioli and the quiet, and peacefulness of that first evening after the storm. It reminded me that even after a profound demonstration of natures power, there was a purpose and a sense of the marvelous in all of our lives, and above all, a reason to be grateful.
I hope you discover, and enjoy an ability to be grateful for all that you are given.