31 Days of 5-Minute Free-Writes
Day 17: Pause
Today I have decided to pause from my normal topic to share something heavy on my heart.
Yesterday my husband and I drove to Panama City, Florida, where only last week Hurricane Michael made landfall. This first set of slides represents some of what we saw on the way there. This was the on the west side of the eye.
The major roads had been cleared, but traffic was still slow at times. A few vital streetlights are now powered by generators, which helps. Even so, it took over three hours to travel what should have been a two-hour trip.
Most of the homes are uninhabitable, so people come in during the day to assess the damages, meet with insurance adjusters, and begin clean-up, then they go someplace safe before the dusk-to-dawn curfew takes effect.
Police escorts helped emergency responders navigate the streets and get to where they needed to be. We also saw many folks already hard at work: clearing fallen trees; repairing power lines; or dispensing free food, water, and medical care.
We didn’t know anyone in Panama City, but my husband and I wanted to put feet to our prayers. So I went online and searched the churches in that area, looking for one very similar to our own. My search led me to Victory Baptist Church, located on 11th Street, just two blocks from the coast in Panama City. I found the phone number and reached out to the pastor. His cell service was spotty, but he returned my call when he was able, and we made arrangements to meet at the church the next morning. Then I went to the store and bought as much water and as many easy-to-open, ready-to-eat food items as our checkbook would allow. Pastor Steven Perrine and his wife Katrina greeted us with smiles. Their oldest son, Johnathan, was there too, helping coordinate all the help that was arriving. Another pastor from a church in Alabama had arrived with a generator, and other folks had brought water. Additionally, two FEMA trucks arrived while we were there, both full of water. We helped carry in the items we had brought, then Katrina gave us a tour of the building. With her permission, I took photos of the damage as well as some of the rooms that were spared.
Pastor Perrine said to us, “We didn’t really get hit that bad. We will rebuild, and then we will turn our efforts to helping others. We really want to reach out to our community during this time.” He also told us that it will take weeks for power to be restored, and months before things return to “normal.” A little further to the east of them, especially on the barrier islands, everything is gone; but most folks are willing to stay and rebuild, and he is encouraged by their hope. The community is still reeling from the enormity of the storm that hit them, and some people are still missing, but as a whole they are pressing forward in hope, ready for a new beginning. You and I can help them.
We write to make a difference. And just now, I want to make a difference in the lives of the Perrine family, their congregation, and their community.
My husband has to work Saturday, but I will be going back out there to help clean up the mess, and I’ll be taking a crew with me. If you happen to live close enough and would like to join us, contact me and let me know.
Most of you who read this are too far away to help with manpower, but you can help with funds. Other items are still needed, and I’ll list some of them below. If you would like to send a care package, again, contact me, and I’ll give you my address (to make the delivery). We did see a carrier on the street yesterday, so they are delivering mail as they are able, but it might would get there faster, for now, if you send it to me.
You may also donate cash, and I will purchase the needed items and personally deliver them. I’ve inserted a payment button below, where you may donate a minimum of one dollar. For instance, if you wish to donate $100, type ‘100’ in the box and click the PayPal button. You do not need a PayPal account in order to make a donation; you may donate as a guest.
Hurricane Michael Relief
Your generous donation will help victims of Hurricane Michael in Panama City, Florida. Thank you!
Here are some suggested items for non-cash donations:
- baby diapers, the larger sizes
- baby wipes
- women’s undergarments
- feminine hygiene items
- lawn & leaf bags
- work gloves
- rubber gloves
- paper towels
- cleaning rags
- scrub brushes
- distilled white vinegar
- baking soda
- antibacterial cleaner
- all-purpose cleaner
- broom & dust pan
- FOOD & DRINK
- bottled water
- gallon water
- Mio or individual flavor packets
- individually-wrapped cracker/cookie packs
- chicken/tuna snack kits
- fruit/applesauce cups
- peanut butter snack cups
- pudding cups
- granola bars
- beef jerky
- hard candy
- canned goods with pop-top lids
- paper plates
Kate Motaung, host of Five-Minute Friday, has challenged us to 31 Days of Five-Minute Free Writes, in which we will explore the telling of our story. This isn’t the first such challenge of hers, but it is the first for me. Thank you for sharing it with me.
For a list of links to all my posts for this challenge, click here.