Hurricane Matthew lived up to the ominous warnings last week, leaving behind lost lives and devastation in Haiti, the Bahamas, Cuba and up the Eastern seaboard. Many of our friends and family members were affected, and we whispered fervent prayers for their protection.
We communicated frequently with my husband’s brothers in West Palm Beach as the hurricane bore down on Florida. As it turned to South Carolina, we listened anxiously as weathercasters predicted that Hilton Head Island would take a direct hit.
That island’s been our family vacation place for 28 years. We watched our boys grow up there–fishing, riding bikes and relaxing in the red rocking chairs by the waterfront. Years later, we celebrated as our sons proposed to their sweethearts on the beach. And we found special delight as we added six grandbabies to our island adventures.
We knew in our hearts that it wasn’t going to be good for our beloved island, but we were stunned by the images that appeared on social media and in news reports. I cried as photos of familiar streets, neighborhoods, and businesses showed up with damage beyond my wildest imaginings. My heart ached for my beautiful island and all impacted there.
But then, some good news started to emerge. Stories of islanders clearing trees from the roads so first responders could get there. Of a local grocery store where the owner opened the store by himself so that folks could get necessary supplies, his wife escorting shoppers through with a flashlight so they could find what they needed.
I was mesmerized by a Periscope feed where a young man drove around the island checking on homes for his friends. Evacuated islanders started popping on in the comments, “Could you check on my home?” Or “My house is just down the street. Could you see if it’s okay?”
And then I realized something: The storms in our lives don’t define us. It’s how we react to them that’s important. Let’s determine that when those difficult times arrive that we will be that port in the storm for others, we’ll be extensions of God’s loving hands to those who are hurting. And let’s continue to pray for all of those who’ve been impacted by Hurricane Matthew.