Everyone in South Florida immediately tensed up when we caught wind that Category 5 Irma was headed straight for Miami. You could feel the hysteria in the air. Everyone started making gas runs all over the city. Then it dawned on me that our rental house did not have hurricane shutters. My best friend – who had just gone through Harvey – called to warn me to get out of South Florida as soon as possible. I wanted to stay, but I knew in my gut that I needed to evacuate my family.
The next morning we woke up at 4:30 am to evacuate to Atlanta. It was a long 13 hour day of driving. As we rolled into South Atlanta, a beautiful African American elderly lady, saw our FL plate and extra gas cans, rolled down her window and said, “Welcome to Atlanta, we’ve been praying for you!” We all teared up with her expression of love.
God used Irma as a mini “hurrication” for our family. We welcomed the fall weather, after fleeing the Miami heat. Our older girls stayed with their friends the entire time – we barely saw them for a week! Gary & Holly Campbell graciously allowed us to evacuate to their home and took great care of us.
Sandi and the girls were refreshed by worshipping with our Perimeter family. I even had the privilege of attending the particularization service of Christos Community Church, which is now the first multicultural, PCA church planted by a Hispanic pastor (Rev. Alex Villasana). It was a joyous morning!
After the storm had made it through FL, we said our goodbyes and began our trek back South. From Atlanta to Orlando was the worst part of our travels. When we left Atlanta last Tuesday, my GPS said our ETA would be 4:30 pm. I began to think, “Great, we’ll have time to relax by the pool at our Orlando hotel and eat dinner somewhere.” Well, my dream of sitting by the pool died when I-10 merged with I-75 southbound. The rest of the way was like a slow-moving parking lot averaging between 30 mph. Gasoline was hard to find. Most restaurants were closed. We rolled into Orlando at 11:30 pm. Thankfully, we had no problems as Waze detoured us around one accident after another, weaving around fallen trees on back roads. We finally arrived back home in Miami on Wednesday after Irma made landfall.
Almost all our trees fell, and thankfully none landed on our home. Our once full Mango tree is damaged but not down. And that’s how most of Miami feels right now. As one mayor put it: “We didn’t dodge a bullet but a canon.” God had mercy on our city!
Although we’ve been in Miami for only a few months, I can honestly say that it is one of the most divided cities I have ever lived in. Many Miamians have said the same. My main prayer request is that God would use post-Irma to open doors that were once shut. We are already experiencing this by getting to know our neighbors. One, in particular, had our house key, called every day and took care of our home while we were gone. We are so thankful!! Please pray with me that God would open many doors and form many new friends in the post-Irma cleanup.
Thank you for all your messages of prayer and concern. We are so thankful for your friendship!