Published 4:32 pm Tuesday, October 16, 2018

For all who get this, Donna Sue and I are praying for you. I believe that everyone I know has been praying for our area. It has never been truer; we are all in the same boat.

No matter what age person I see, the comment is the same. “I’ve never seen anything like this.” As a pastor, I have been in contact with most of the members of my churches and everyone has been affected. There are many “near misses.” Trees that could have fallen one way, fell the other. Houses have been spared.

At the same time, some trees fell directly onto houses. I’ve seen more than one house that has been split into two halves. There is not a yard or road that isn’t a mess. Almost a week into the aftermath, the conveniences to which all of us have grown accustomed are still lacking.

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Those little things like a hot cup of coffee and waking up to the morning news on television or perusing the internet for all sorts of enjoyment may never be thought of in the same way.

From late Wednesday afternoon until Thursday morning last week, we were hunkered down in the safest places we could imagine. Donna Sue had made a pallet in the hallway. My daughter who had endured Hurricane Ivan in 2005 called and said, “The hallway is your best friend.” Some chose bathtubs and closets.

For four hours we listened to winds that were over 100 miles per hour. Every now and then, I would venture into the room where I could see outside. Limbs were falling and trees were breaking or being blown down.

My daughter also texted. “At least it’s a fast moving storm,” she wrote. Not fast enough, I thought! Surprisingly, I wasn’t afraid for my life, but I was praying that the two huge and tall pines that could have wreaked devastation upon our house would stay right-side up. “Dear Lord, keep those pines standing.” He did, thankfully.

Thursday morning was calm and as soon as day broke, I walked outside to assess the damage. I had no idea what I would see, but you know what I saw. Our drive way was blocked and the street where we live was also blocked in a half dozen places. Thanks to neighborhood volunteers with chain saws, it only took five or six hours to get to the main road.

Naturally, I was concerned with people first, but also wanted to see the church and how it was affected. It was there that I saw a most memorable sight.

First of all, the damage to the church was minimal. Siding blown off, shingles missing, and lots of tree damage to those hundred year old live oaks. But, right next to the church was a sight to behold.

Thanks to an eagle scout, we have a flag pole and proudly fly our nation’s standard. The flag pole was bent, but still standing, and atop the pole was what was left of Old Glory. She was tattered and torn, but still there!

I couldn’t help but think of Francis Scott Key’s poem about that flag at Fort McHenry 216 years ago. “Oh say can you see by the dawn’s early light. What so proudly we hailed at the twilight’s last gleaming…Oh say does that Star-Spangled Banner yet wave. O’er the land of the free, and the home of the brave.”

My friends, we have been hit hard. There is a long way to go and we may never be the same. But, we have survived a devastating blow. Thank you, God!