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Surviving Irma
Sudie Crouch

If you had told me that we were going to get hit by a hurricane in the North Georgia Mountains, I would have thought you were crazy. At least a month or so ago I would have anyway.

But after seeing Hurricane Harvey flood Houston, I wasn’t so sure.

When my sister, who lives in Houston, messaged me a little over a week later saying it looked like we would get hit by Hurricane Irma, I started getting nervous.

Someone else who had retired here from Florida was telling me it was not looking good.

“Surely it will break up before it gets this far,” I said, hoping but feeling very anxious about the whole thing.

The lady grimaced. “I wouldn’t count on that,” she said.

I was panicking about the whole thing and watched the weather updates. I took my little homeopathic anxiety tabs twice a day.

The Friday before Irma was anticipated, I went to the store to get water. I only got 7 gallon jugs and some batteries. My husband thought I was being silly but said we always could use batteries and water.

The news said the storm was turning and shifting, but that Sunday I still went to the store early and got a few groceries. We were out of a few things anyway and I got a few snacks in case we did lose power for a few hours.

The news continued to report that the storm was turning west and had been downgraded.

My anxiety eased somewhat but I still took a few of my homeopathic nerve pills.

Monday, the news said it was downgraded to a tropical storm and that basically, we would get some “wind and rain.”

Some wind and rain in the form of a small hurricane.

That’s what it felt like.

I should have trusted my pittie more than the weather man because she was anxious all day, pacing, crying, and trying to get us to get behind the couch.

Around 7 p.m., the power went out.
The first hour or two, we tried to make the most of it. We put batteries in the little radio and listened to CD’s, Cole playing DJ. We sang along to Queen, Bruce Springsteen and David Bowie.

Then the weather started gaining force and we realized this was more than just some wind and rain.

The weather man updated on Facebook around 10:30 for everyone to sleep well – I guess in Atlanta it was through but here in the mountains, Irma was just getting wound up good.

“Maybe they should not give these storms names that make you think of some little gray haired German grandma,” Cole said, trying to feign off his nervousness with humor. “Maybe name it Death Con 2017 or The Terminator, so people know what they are dealing with. Calling it Irma makes me think she is wearing an apron and baking pastry.”

He had a point. Give it a more appropriate name and maybe we’d know what to expect. Or maybe not downgrade it and act like it is just going to be ‘some wind and rain’ kind of like what we have on blustery winter days.

About the time the weather man was saying she should be dying down, Irma sent a huge tree down on our house.
Nothing like feeling the earth tremble and hearing a boom to make you take four homeopathic nerve pills at a time.

I looked out the back door and saw nothing but leaves in my face.

Doodle, the pittie, was shaking against my legs and I was shaking right along with her.

For what felt like an eternity, we heard the wind whip against our little cabin in the woods.

We heard the sickening sound of trees popping all around and prayed, silently and fervently for them not to hit our house.

At one point – even though the news hasn’t reported it yet – we heard that sound of a train that signals a tornado. We weren’t the only ones who heard it; our surrounding neighbors did as well.

 I sat up until at 3 a.m., finally dozing off when Doodle had passed out, exhausted from trying to warn us of the storm.

The next morning, it looked like a bomb had gone off. Trees were down all around us. Two huge trees had fallen across our driveway; we couldn’t even see the road because there were so many trees and limbs down.

The tree that had hit the deck had fallen from behind the barn, across it and the back of our driveway and onto our deck.

Two huge oak trees on our little hill were uprooted, and thankfully, fell to the side instead of straight back or straight forward.

There was not one inch of space that was untouched but, somehow, our little cabin was safe.

As I stood there in shock – it looked like something in a post-apocalyptic movie –I was overwhelmed with gratitude.

We were safe. Our home was safe. Our pets – all three of our pups and our two outdoor feral cats – were safe.

I cried the first of many tears of gratitude that day.

Lamar went to see how bad it was on our little dirt road and after he was gone over an hour, we started to get nervous until trucks and a tractor pulled down our drive. Help in the form of neighbors – neighbors that for years we have only waved to as we passed on the road – were out, going door to door to check on one another and clearing trees out of driveways.

I cried tears of humble gratitude again. I cried a lot that day. We were blessed to have made it through that storm. Not lucky; blessed.

No phone or power, and our cells were all dead, we made our way to the grocery store to see if we could charge our phones. A kind lady shared her surge protector with me so I could charge my phone, even though WI-FI was down all over.

Someone said, disaster brings out the best in people. Strangers were helping each other and sharing what they could. We realized we are all in this together, no matter what we’ve been told to the contrary.

As I type this, courtesy of the power at Chick-Fil-A (and the power of their Diet Lemonade), I still don’t have power. My cell data is still spotty, and hardly anyone has WI-FI.

But my family, our pets, and our home are safe. My friends and loved ones are safe. Right now, it is a bit of an inconvenience but we have so much, so very much to be grateful for.

In my nearly 45 years, I have never experienced anything like this, and I pray none of us ever have to again.

 

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