Thursday, September 11, 2008

Weather Personified

In the last six weeks I have gotten to know a few personalities that were born, traveled, and vanished in the span of 20 days. Edouard was my first. He seemed about to visit me, but apparently became broken up over the prospect of traveling so far. Then I became acquainted with Fay, whom I knew only by reputation. And of course my friend Gustav, who made his presence felt in a bigger way, yet in the end did not live up to the reputation which preceded him. Cousin Hanna traveled in other circles, so I did not know her well. But now her crazy brother Ike seems to be the one who is about to personally shake my hand.

Perhaps you have met Ike, too. Here is his mugshot, although it changes from day to day:

Living in hurricane country has helped me begin to see these gigantic circular storms as deserving of the personification we give to them. I think they would have even more presence if I were down on the coast of Galveston watching them blow in, but I am starting to understand that when a storm interrupts your life, it somehow helps to have a name to blame it on.

Although we live just a bit too far inland to ever worry too much about any but the most major and direct of hurricanes, our little corner of the world has been designated a safe place for coastal residents to flee in the event of a weather emergency. And so, today Ike has become the first in my tenure here to make his impending arrival something to disrupt my own routine.

As Brazos County prepares to accept a large number of Houston area evacuees, all resources are being diverted toward that cause. To that end, classes at A&M, as well as the local school districts, have cancelled classes for tomorrow. Kids up north get snow days; apparently we get hurricane days.

I realize that for me, this is still something of a lark. I have never personally witnessed the devastation of a storm of this size. But I am also aware that beyond my own sphere, these recent storms have brought a 1-2-3-4 punch to the island nations of Haiti and Cuba.

My heart breaks as I read that hundreds of people have died, and more than 800,000 people have been made homeless in these poor countries within the last month.

I don't know that words can ever convey the real meaning of "total devastation" until one has experienced it. I have been blessed never to have come close enough to make it real in my own mind. But I do know the One who knows the depth of sorrow of every mother, brother, and child who is living through loss right now, and I know he cares.

I am moved to pray that this hurricane season will mercifully end soon; and that aid can be allowed to reach those who need it the most. God, bless the souls whose lives have been ripped to shreds, and give them strength to begin again.

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