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MORE THAN JUST WIND AND RAIN



I guess my family and I were lucky this time around as Hurricane Frances only grazed us.

Judy and I watched out the front window as winds of fifty miles per hour blew the large tree limbs from side to side. I stood out on the front porch recalling our own exodus during Hurricane Floyd in September of 1999.

As the wind subsided, I got into my truck and I drove about half a mile to Interstate 95. I parked my vehicle and I stood above the freeway watching -- thousands of cars, trucks, motor-homes, travel trailers and buses lined the roadway for as far as the eye could see.

As children played, laughed and joked in the backseats, the parents' expressions plainly showed a sign of fear and worry.

I remember when my family and I drove for hours at five miles per hour to get away from Hurricane Floyd. I will never forget the chaos and the confusion. Even then, people would stop and help those who were out of gas or stranded. I will never forget how much kindness Americans can show to one another in a time of crisis.

I walked to the other side of the freeway overpass and noticed hundreds, upon hundreds, of utility trucks coming down the southbound lanes, exiting at Exit 38. It was the staging area where the trucks waited for the go ahead to begin their tasks of getting the electricity flowing again.

The truck license plates were from Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia, and Ohio, to name a few.

I stood there with a little bit of a lump in my throat.

"Never thought I would get a lump in my throat from seeing a darn utility truck," I mumbled to myself.

After thinking about the situation for several minutes I realized that it was not the utility trucks at all -- it was seeing that America always sticks together and that it always looks out for its own. It was no longer a game about Ohio beating Florida or Mississippi beating Alabama. America was a team and a team always works together.

I walked back to the other side of the freeway and I stood there watching the north-bound traffic. I watched family after family pass under me. Once in a while I would get a wave or a thumbs-up. I stood there wondering how many of these families really understood the severity of the situation. Yes, there was the hurricane itself and the possible destruction to their homes, but what about everyday life?

The grocery stores, the gas stations, the hardware stores will all be closed or just empty. There will be no food, gas, electricity or hardware supplies for days, possibly even weeks. There will be no television or video games for the children. There will be no food for the pets. There will be no pizza or going out to McDonalds. It will take weeks to reestablish these necessities and conveniences.

What about the elderly who have no vehicle to drive themselves to escape the storm's wrath? Do they just sit in their darkened homes, afraid and crying as the storm passes? What about those who are poor? Those who do not have the money to reach safety? There must be many Americans in that situation.

I thought about many things as I watched the traffic crawl beneath me. Then my cell phone rang.

"Rog, this is Craig. We are really getting pounded down here in Tampa. We are right in the middle of this thing. By any chance do you have a can opener on you?" he asked me.

"A can opener?" I replied.

"We grabbed the kids and we had to get out quick. The hurricane was right on top of us within minutes. All that was left at the grocery store was about twenty cans of tuna. That's all we've got to eat," he told me.

”What good would me having a can opener do you?” I asked him. I told him to take his pocket knife and use it to open the cans. I guess he was just so scared that he did not realize what he was asking me.

"Roger, you wouldn't believe it. There are catfish swimming around in the parking lot. I have to admit, I'm really scared. I waited too long to get out. I'm really scared for my family," said told me.

As I was about to speak we were disconnected.

I stood there contemplating the entire situation. Everything from the families caught in this hurricane, to the catfish swimming in the parking lot. And then I thought of the hundreds of American corporations who donate millions in supplies, and the countless number of Americans who donate millions more in cash to help the Red Cross. The team work to put the pieces back together is amazing -- the true spirit of America.

I thank God that there is so much more to a hurricane than just the wind and rain -- it's also people who help one another in a crisis.



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