Nico, left, and Christopher standing by one of the fallen trees during Hurricane Irma. September 11, 2017.
September 22, 2017
We are singing happy birthday but nothing about our situation was happy. We were celebrating, my now 8-year-old son’s, birthday but outside there was a hell of a storm happening. Hurricane Irma had begun taking out her wrath on the poor State of Florida. There was nothing normal about what were doing.
Irma’s winds started to be sustained at 40 miles per hour at about, 7 AM. The wind rolled over the house like ocean waves lapping the shores of the Florida coast. Our cinder block house wasn’t rattled however our nerves were. We knew the Hurricane was coming but unfortunately due to my work as a police officer I couldn’t flee. I had to be close to my city for an instant recall once the worst of the storm had past. I attempted to send my family to Tampa earlier in the week but roadway gridlock made it impossible. And since the storm shifted its path into Tampa it was a blessing for my wife and kids they didn’t make that trip.
Christopher had an ice skating party planned for September 9, the day before his birthday. Obviously we had to cancel it. I’m sure we weren’t the only ones who had their plans foiled by this cyclone that had set its sights on us.
The hours were counted as the wind increased and we prayed for the storm to pass with each hour we ticked off. The lights in the house flickered as the electricity was be blown off and on like trick candles on a birthday cake. It wasn’t a matter of if we were going to lose power. It was only a matter of when.
We sang loudly to our son. The howling winds that blew through the cracks and crevasse created a beat that almost drowned out our voices. Every one of us was scared but we didn’t show it. Our eyes telling the tale of our fear when we would glance up at the rattling ceiling paranoid that the rook would come off and cave in the walls. And yet we sang the son Happy Birthday in order to calm our own nerves.
Finally, the lights went out. The candles of the cake flickered and gave us some illumination, a partial break from the darkness that was ready to set in once he blew out the candle.
“Make a wish, Christopher,” I said.
Christopher closed his eyes announced,” I wish for candy” and he blew out the candles.
The innocence of a child demonstrated a quiet calm in a storm that was wrecking havoc outside and destroying lives as it moved north. He didn’t have to wish for safety during the storm. His mom and I had already prayed for it.
The rain and wind pounded relentlessly for 13 hours. But eventually it subsided at around 9 PM. Wind gusts were simmering down and it was calm enough for me to go outside an assess the damage. Trees were down, power was off, but my neighbors and myself were fine. It turned out to be a Happy Birthday for everyone.
** We lost power for 7 and half days. I maintained a generator and food during that time. I have to admit I was delirious after 5 days due to extreme heat of the day and sultry nights but it could have been worse. My entire family was safe and for that I was grateful. Please donate to help those who were not so lucky.
The family riding out Hurricane Irma on September 10, 2017. The day of Christopher's birthday.
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