On the night of Saturday, September 10th, my family and I sat around our living room in Lakeland, Florida and played games by candlelight. The power had gone out a little while before as the wind outside was steadily increasing. We couldn’t see much since most of our windows were boarded up and every other point of weakness was shielded by large furniture, but the glimpses we did catch revealed a world that was on the verge of chaos. Trees shuddered, rain poured, and except for the occasional flash of transformers exploding in the distance, Lakeland sat in darkness.
We had been expecting Irma for days. This record breaking hurricane was finally coming to our town, and as it became more and more certain that her eye would pass directly overhead, we started to take things seriously. All the preparations had been made the day before, as well as a time of family prayer and praise to the Lord. After all, He is the One who commands the winds of heaven! Our prayer was that no one would be hurt and only a little damage would be incurred.
I didn’t sleep much that night. The storm raged for hours on end, hurling branches, dumping rain, and felling trees. With each powerful gust that uprooted the land, we couldn’t help but wonder if the next tree that toppled would be the one perilously close to our house! The time passed, the storm abated, and dawn finally came.
It was a surreal experience to walk outside on the morning of the 11th. The ground was covered with a thick layer of brush and branches for as far as I could see. People started to emerge from their homes and wander around, breathlessly taking in the mess that Irma had left behind. Neighbors greeted each other with a new camaraderie, we had made it through the storm!
That morning I wandered around my neighborhood and documented a small piece of the aftermath. Although the damage was breathtaking, It soon became clear that Lakeland had truly been spared. This hurricane had the potential to bring incredible destruction and suffering! But the Lord had seen fit to keep the majority of our city safe and sound. (Thank you, Jesus)
While I am thankful for the safety of my family and the power that just came back on this morning (September 13th), I know that there are many who have lost SO much as a result of this storm! (Even just down the road from me is a family who had a large tree fall straight through the main part of their house.) Others in the more dangerous parts of the hurricane’s path, have even lost their lives. These pictures only capture my tiny view of the story, and it is one that has been incredibly protected and blessed. Through it all we trust that our God is sovereign and in perfect control.
(Side Note: to my community, thank you for handling this event with such wisdom and grace! Thank you for working hard to serve others and bring Lakeland back on her feet. To everyone from the first responders to the workers at Lakeland Electric, you are a enormous blessing.)
Love you all!