By: Sandra Jean Charite, MS
Hurricane Irma was expected to hit landfall in South Florida between the early hours on Sunday, September 10.
All day Friday and into late Saturday night, thousands of South Floridians prepared for the storm. They lined up in stores, filled up their gas tanks, and ensured that they had obtained all the necessary supplies.
People tuned in to their local weather stations via television, radio, or online to get their latest updates of the storm. However, Irma would bring more than just wind and rain but she brought patience.
Ok, rewind. Days before the storm hit South Florida, many flocked to the gas stations in which they endured long wait times. The wait was ridiculous. Having endured Hurricane Andrew, Katrina, and Wilma, I could not find myself waiting in those lines again and possibly running out of gas while waiting. So that Friday morning before the storm, I decided that on my way to work I would fill up my gas tank. I left my house early hoping to beat the traffic to the pumps but the gas station’s line was long and they ran out of gas just as I was the third vehicle in line.
Knowing that I didn’t want to be late for work, I jumped on the Florida Turnpike thinking that my commute would be quick. The Turnpike was already congested due to the amount of people who were fleeing Key West and the down south area of Miami. Although the tolls were suspended because Irma was approaching, I was annoyed by the traffic and my patience was slowly diminishing. Surprisingly, traffic cleared in less than 10 minutes and I was flying on the Turnpike. I reached my destination, Margate (Pompano Beach area), within 15 minutes and I was left with 45 minutes to spare.
Since I was early, I drove around to find gas. All the local gas station’s lines were long. I went two miles from my job and found a gas station, located in a busy intersection, which had an empty pump. As I pulled up to the pump, a woman in a Black Nissan cut me off and jump to the only available pump. She got out of her car to go inside to pay for the gas and didn’t bother to apologize. I calmed my words and silenced my thoughts while I allowed my Spotify playlist to continue to play in the background. If we allow it, the mind can entertain foolish thoughts.
Watching the woman pump her gas was the longest 15 minutes of my life. I’m pretty sure it wasn’t less than 15 minutes but oh my. By the time it was my turn to pump gas, the pump was having some issues. First of all, it would not take my credit card. Then, the gas station attendant said that I had to pay cash because the credit card machine was not working. So, I had to find an ATM machine to withdraw cash and wait in line to pay for the gas then patiently fill my tank with the gas. My patience was decreasing. Something that seemed so easy was turning out to be difficult. Finally, my tank was full and I made my way to work.
Fast forward to Saturday where the chaos in the streets and gas stations were even more crazy. Patiently awaiting Irma, who took forever, but it felt like she was already here as the rain and wind took refuge outside. Mandatory curfews were issued throughout the tri-county area as the local meteorologists monitored the storms and provided updates within every hour. Even as Irma shifted west of Florida, fear and lack of patience triumphed over many. But that Saturday night, we waited for Irma to make landfall.
And then, she finally arrived. Irma made her presence known in South Florida and left a trail of devastation and hundreds feared to be dead. In the early morning hours on that Sunday morning, I lost power which meant no air conditioner, electricity, and cold water. We didn’t know when our power would be restored but we were fortunate that our power was out for only a day and a half. However, it seemed like a long time as the heat erupted in the night. I woke up to heat sweats and took close to four showers in less than 48 hours.
Those hours felt like days so I spent majority of my time taking naps but when I woke up it was the same day. So, I went for a drive. I drove through the devastated areas, spoke to my neighbors, stood in the long line at Publix to get hot food, and read my Bible and a book but time went by so slow between Sunday and Monday. In the early morning hours of Tuesday as I got up to wash off the nightly sweats, Florida Power & Light (FPL) restored our power. My neighbors and I cheered with excitement. However, days later, many South Floridians would still be left without power.
Patience is critical because storms will come. Some storms will be short and others will be long but patience is needed to endure through the seasons. Paul said that, “we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope” (Romans 5: 3-4). Storms don’t last forever.
One day for God can sometimes seems like a whole month for man because we are focused on what we want like an infant cries simultaneously waiting to receive their bottle. As God is building our patience with life’s storm, He is crafting maturity so that we can do better in this walk.
And, in your patience, be a blessing to someone, sow a seed, and appreciate as well as be grateful for what God is doing in your life. While you’re complaining about a door that hasn’t open, someone is coveting that door you’re already walking in. Be patient in your storm.
Prayers to all those who have been affected by the series of hurricanes. God is a healer and a restorer.