Just five days ago I was joining many others and praying for the survivors and the first responders in Texas and Louisiana after Hurricane Harvey made landfall and continued to rain and flood for days. For me, mostly faceless and nameless people, known to me only by images on my TV.
But to many others these folks most certainly had names and faces, some were family like my friend Drew whose brother lives in Houston; others friends and colleagues. For them their prayers were more specific, their anxiety more real, their concern hitting home beyond CNN or The Weather Channel.
This week I understand.
Yesterday, in the early hours of the morning, members of my immediate family; my daughter, son-in-law, and their two sons fled Broward County and began to head north. Their sons, two of my three grandchildren, are just babies. One is two years old, the other less than two months old. Yesterday morning they became part of the Irma refugee movement north.
Later in the day they found shelter in northern Florida; far enough north where, though they may not avoid a hurricane, they should be safe to ride out a much lesser storm.
Though I find some comfort in a weaker threat, I am not comfortable.
As I sit now and watch CNN, detail after detail, listening to the interview of the mayor of Hollywood Florida, the town where my kids live; watching the storm track and those spinning 5’s and 4’s go up the Florida peninsula I am relieved my daughter, my son-in-law, and those babies are not in south Florida.
But I am not without great concern.
I have a lot of extended family and some very good friends in Florida.
If you are from Jersey, you have family and friends in Florida.
I am concerned for all of them.
I am safe many miles away.
My biggest weather related concern this summer has been how the rain has forced me to have to cut my grass every six days and still my mower sputters and stalls. What an inconvenience.
There are people in Texas and in the Caribbean tonight who don’t have lawns to cut anymore, some don’t have houses, some worse than that.
I am safe far away from the chaos, but I am also helpless to those that I love who may be close to danger.
All I can do now is pray.
And like last Sunday I will pray for the safety of all those in harm’s way as residents, visitors, and those responding to the call for help.
But in addition to that, for me this week I will pray in greater detail. This week I have names, and faces, and memories, and futures to prayer for.
So for now I will watch the storm projections and listen to the countless interviews. I will act cool and supportive on the phone and in the text messages.
But I will continue to worry about my littlest Irma refugees and my family and friends.
And I will pray.
Ten o’clock update. A little more shift to the west. I think it’s working…