Hurricane Cleo struck Miami with 100-mile-per-hour winds in late August 1964. Fallen branches and debris flew across the yard. The pelting rain rattled against our old wooden door and the thin, sheet glass-pane windows.
My stepdad, Jimmy placed a dresser against the front door to our efficiency apartment to keep it from flying open. Mama and I hunkered down in the dark bathroom like cornered animals. I sat on the floor with my knees pulled up. I covered my ears with my hands, trying to drown out the deafening gusts of wind and my mama’s panicking cries.
Yet in the same instant that I closed my eyes, the thoughts tumbled through my mind: Gosh, today is my birthday; I am five years old. Mama said I’m a ‘big girl’ now.
In the year 1969, ten days before my tenth birthday, the second most intense hurricane on record hit the United States. Hurricane Camille, a Category 5, had all of South Florida feeling her wrath.
My step-daddy, Mama, and I took shelter in the gymnasium of Miami Edison High School. Many people talked in loud voices. Confused and frightened children fussed and cried as they clung to their mama’s skirts and their daddy’s necks to ride out the storm.
On a floor mat, I sat glancing around, clutching my raggedy doll and our meager chow in a sack: a single loaf of Wonder Bread and a jar of Welch’s Grape Jelly. When My step-daddy suggested that I offer some to another girl close by, I recoiled. You see, even in normal times, sharing food wasn’t so easy for me.
Comfort and tranquility were as far away from me as the moon and blew past like shingles from the roofs of so many of the homes that felt Camille’s fury.
The above are excerpts of my memoir. Even after all these years later, I still get a bit skittish during rainstorms, let alone hurricanes. Me no like, and as you can see, have never liked them.
Currently, the National Hurricane Center forecast are saying–not one but–two storms are brewing in the Gulf of Mexico! What if they collide with each other and spin around each other, becoming one? This Texas Two-Step is known as a Fujiwhara effect. Go figure!
My heart and prayers go out to all those affected by these storms; whatever type of storm they may be: sickness, trials, trouble, distress, turmoil, heartache or pressure. This is not easy for everyone–me included–but may I encourage you to allow God to give you peace in the midst of the storms.
I am reminded what scripture says: Isaiah 26:3-4: “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You; because he trusts in You. Trust in the Lord forever: for in the Lord Jehovah is everlasting strength.”