Written by: Tanya Cartwright
Just because I live in what many people consider paradise doesn’t mean I haven’t been through storms. I was born and raised in The Bahamas and have lived here all my life. We Bahamians have encountered our share of storms, but nothing could have prepared us for Hurricane Dorian--the beast that was to come and violently raise our beautiful aquamarine waters to 23 feet above sea level. Only God knew what was coming!
I packed up my first-grade teaching supplies so that I could get ready for the new school year while waiting out the hurricane at home. Hurricanes don’t last that long, right? As the storm began, my elderly father-in-law, a former pastor, started singing, “Keep me safe ‘til the storm passes by.” His singing and Bible verse repetition were what got us through the terrifying hours ahead.
Sitting on the couch, I felt water dripping. My husband and I placed towels, sheets, blankets, and whatever else we could find to absorb the water. As things got worse, we decided to go to my father-in-law’s side of our duplex. The door separating the two sides of our duplex slammed shut, and we heard a loud crash! I couldn’t get the door open to see what had happened.
We waited to see if the winds and rain would subside. Our duplex had two to three feet of water inside even though it was on high ground. Thankfully, the power station had already turned off the power, or we would have already been gone. God knew!
As the storm calmed slightly, my husband decided that the three of us should run for other shelter. Our car wasn’t an option since it had been overtaken by water, but my husband led us across the street to the neighbors. To keep hold of each other, I twisted one hand around my husband’s shirt and grabbed my father-in-law’s arm with the other. We left barefoot with only the clothes on our backs. All other important items were left inside. I guess deep down we were thinking we would be able to go back and get them, but we had to get to shelter first. About half of our duplex had already blown down and most of the roof had blown off. When we made it, our neighbors gladly let us inside their home.
When the hurricane’s eye came, more people started looking for shelter. Some of our friends had already said their final goodbyes since they couldn’t get out of their nearly submerged home. Once the water outside started to go down, they managed to open the door thanks to adrenalin and God’s grace. My husband went to help them, and soon, all of us were safe in our neighbor’s apartment.
Never before in my life had I been so scared, but my father-in-law kept repeating Nahum 1:7, “The Lord is good, a strong hold in the day of trouble; and he knoweth them that trust in him.” We all hid in the bathrooms of the apartment. Tornadoes were everywhere outside, and the pressure made our ears feel like they would never be the same. That night was one of the longest nights of our lives. Although the hurricane was moving toward the next island, it moved so slowly that it practically stopped over us. Psalm 56:3 kept repeating in my head: “What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee.” God had His hand in and on us all.
The next day, the hurricane had completely passed us, and my nephew found us after he had crossed the water and debris covering the town. He recovered some of our personal documents which we were able to dry out and save. Two days later, my husband and I finally got in contact with our son who was away at college. Hearing his voice and letting him know that we were alive and well was an emotional experience.
All of us stayed in our neighbor’s apartment for three days while we waited for the debris to be cleared. To avoid the water in the apartment, my husband and I had to sleep at the dining room table. Most importantly, God provided for us, and we were safe.
Four days after the hurricane, my father-in-law, husband, and I managed to reach my brother-in-law’s house. We left our island two days later since people had started looting on our island and we needed to find a new place to stay. My brother-in-law and his wife went with us to a sister island, and we were given lodging in a nice little one-bedroom cottage. It was tight with all of us, but we didn’t mind.
A few weeks later, God provided a new place for us to live in Nassau, the capital city of The Bahamas. There, I received the opportunity to complete my teaching degree free of charge. Only GOD! My son surprised us with a visit on his birthday, a surprise which was one of the best ones my husband and I ever had.
What God has brought me through and where He has been leading me have made me grow in such a way. My relationship with Him is stronger, and I’ve learned to trust Him more. I may have lost my home in Hurricane Dorian, but I have hope for what God is rebuilding. Now as I face each day, I remind myself of Phillippians 4:13: “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”
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