The flashlight beam slowly made its way to the ceiling. It stopped at a leak that trickled from the top of the door to the floor below.
He checked the towel on the carpet below the door. It was damp.
He heard another one.
He quickly turned his attention to the living room windows. The plywood made it impossible for him to see outside and the limbs pounding against the hard surface produced an eerie sound. He stared at the windows. For a moment he thought he saw the wall move. It was as if the house was breathing…as if he could see the wall expand and then return to normal.
He aimed the flashlight beam at his watch. 3:42 am. He sighed. Had it only been two hours? It seemed longer.
He heard another one.
They were coming quicker. At first when he heard the wind gusts it’d been exciting, almost fun. He’d opened the front door of the house at one point to look outside. He’d seen the tree in the front yard bending over, the top of its branches touching the ground.
But that had been over two hours ago, and it had long ago ceased to be fun.
He shone his light once more, this time at the two dogs that were in the living room. The Bassett Hound looked up at him. His sad eyes and big ears draped across the carpet made him smile. Made him, at least for a moment, forget the night. Forget the rain. Forget the wind.
Then he heard another one.
The wind kept a steady howl as he made his way to other parts of the house, through the kitchen and into what the family calls, “the front room.” The bigger windows did little to let any light in from the streets. He sighed. No outside lights at all. No street lights, no signal lights. He didn’t know it at the time but would soon find out that the whole city was in complete and total darkness.
He made his way to the bedrooms.
It was even darker in the hall, with no light coming in at all. He first turned left toward his daughter’s room. The beam from the flashlight shown across clothes that had made their way to his daughter’s bedroom floor, and he thought of the times he’d scolded her for not cleaning her room. Those moments seemed so far from him now.
The beam of the flashlight fell on his daughter’s face. She slept peacefully. She’d stayed awake during the beginning of the storm but had grown tired and restless once the power went out. Finally, she announced that she was going to lay down “only for a minute.”
Satisfied she was safe, he went into his own bedroom where his wife was sleeping.
He took a seat at his desk and set the flashlight down so that the beam hit the ceiling. He had a small battery controlled television. He had been using it sparingly to save power, but figured it was time for an update. He dialed to a local station with the best reception.
The meteorologist was talking as a map revealed that the worst was yet to come…
“As you can see the edge of the hurricane has just now reached Galveston Bay. The surges there are up to 8 feet, and we can expect them to reach as much as 20 feet before this is all over.”
The map zeroed in on Houston. “As for you who are in the Houston area, you can see you are still in this yellow area…” The satellite map had Houston and surrounding areas covered in yellow. “…this red area, where winds are gusting at over 100 miles per hour, should reach the Houston area in about an hour.”
He sighed again as he turned off the TV.
She heard him. “What are they saying?”
He turned and faced his wife. “We should be getting the worst of it soon.”
She rubbed her eyes. “Are you alright?”
He nodded. “Kind of keeping guard, I guess.”
He got up from his chair and went to the bed. He reached out in the dark and took her hand. “You try to get some more sleep. I’ll wake you if need be.”
Her head turned slightly, and he knew her well enough to know what the turn meant.
“She’s still asleep.”
“She’s going to miss the whole thing.”
“Suits me just fine. I’ve got a feeling things are going to get a little scary soon.”
“Yeah.” She looked at him. “You sure you’re okay?”
“Yeah. I’m sure.” She slowly let go of her hand. “Try to get some more sleep, huh?”
She nodded. “I love you.”
“I love you, too, honey.”
He walked back to his desk and sat down, the beam of light still hitting the ceiling. He turned the flashlight off to save battery power, and sat for a few moments in the dark, head bowed, eyes closed. Soon his wife was snoring. The sound was reassuring, comforting.
Suddenly, he heard what sounded like a locomotive, and it almost caused him to wake both his wife and daughter and head to their designated ‘safety area,’ the hall between the two bedrooms, but the moment passed as quickly as it came. At first he thought he’d heard a tornado, but after four or five more just like it, he convinced himself that it was just the wind.
He took a long deep breath and returned to what he’d been doing before he’d made “the rounds.”
His Bible was open before him, and using the flashlight, he read…
Now when He got into a boat, His disciples followed Him. And suddenly a great tempest arose on the sea, so that the boat was covered with the waves, but He was asleep. Then His disciples came to Him and awoke Him, saying, “Lord, save us! We are perishing!” But He said to them, “Why are you fearful, O you of little faith?” Then He arose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm.
There was another gust, this one seemed to last longer than any of the others.
He waited for it to pass.
He then took his highlighter and marked the passage that he’d just read in yellow, surprised that it had not been marked before. He set down the highlighter and picked up his pen. In the center column, he wrote the following words:
Highlighted – 9.13.08, at 4.05 am, during Hurricane Ike. Houston, TX.
He heard another one.
Wow! Coming much, much quicker, and he thought to himself, much, much stronger.
He clicked off the flashlight, closed his eyes, said a prayer, and settled in for a long morning…
The Scripture passage (in italics) is taken from The Gospel according to Matthew (Matt. 8:23-26), in the New King James Version of the Bible.
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