The Rushmore Report: How We Survived Hurricane Irma

Hurricane Irma put 18 million Floridians under a Hurricane Warning – a record. Irma was a Category 4/5 storm for four days – a record. Irma forced the evacuation of 6.5 million people – a record. Four million have been left without power – including my wife and me. I have been through six hurricanes in my lifetime. This is the first one that has displaced my family from our house. But as of Day 4, we have survived. Here’s how.

1. My family decided who is in control – before the hurricane.

Habakkuk, the Old Testament prophet, said it like this: “Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will take joy in the God of my salvation” (Habakkuk 3:17-18). In other words, we have decided that our dance with peace is determined by relationship, not circumstance. We are at peace because we know the One who is there before, during, and after the storm.

2. We didn’t have much to lose – during the hurricane.

They said the winds in Bradenton, Florida would hit 130 miles per hour. Our house was not built to that standard. So, we knew there was a reasonable chance that, after we evacuated, despite boarding up everything, our house might be turned to rubble in just hours. So we made the decision to fill our cars with everything we owned that really mattered. Surprisingly, that was not a difficult task. I put 57 years of life into the trunk of my Miata. How? Because my real life was in the other car, driving our Sonata. My wife was safe. My son was safe. My dog was safe. So life would be okay.

3. We knew we’d still have a home, no matter what – after the hurricane.

The storm could wipe out our house, but it could not touch out home. The psalmist said, “Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it” (Psalm 127:1). God did not build the structure sitting at my physical address. Man did that. I don’t know the men who did that, but I do know the Man who built our home.

So we did what millions did – we left. We are blessed to be a part of a wonderful church and to have incredible friends. A family in our church took us in. We had one big, long, windy hurricane party. We even went out in the midst of the hurricane late at night. I recorded a 72-mph wind gust on my anemometer. We really had a blast. In fact, I am writing this from the guest room of their house, because our house still has no power.

But that’s okay. Our house is without power, but not our home. Our home has a Power that no hurricane can ever touch.

And that’s how we survived Hurricane Irma.

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