Everything about Naw’lins, as the locals call it, is easy. Even the language flows as easy as the lazy Mississippi. Just try saying “New Orleans” compared to “Naw’lins”, and I will make my point.
It is easy being captivated by the irresistible charm of the men here too. Yes, I am married and no, I have never cheated. “It doesn’t hurt to flirt,” I always say.
It would be difficult to call my business trip “work” while keeping a straight face. Success has come easy and the outstanding food, drinking, dancing and fun have been icing on my career cake.
But today, I am feeling a bit uneasy in the Big Easy. My business associates assure me I have nothing to worry about. The hotel is the soundest building on Canal Street, able to withstand apocalypse they boast. As the torrential rain rattles the windows, and the hotel sways in the powerful wind, I am not so sure. I shudder and flick on the TV in a vain attempt to drown out the noise.
Hurricane Katrina is battering the Louisiana and Mississippi coastlines with winds in excess of 140 miles per hour. We are asking all residents…
The screen goes black, leaving only flashes of lightning to pierce the dark morning. Showing any signs of fear would be a weakness, and as a woman in a man’s world, I refuse to show weakness.
When the storm abates, I lay my head down on the pillow exhausted. I have survived my first hurricane.
Pounding fists on the doors down the hall awaken me out of a deep sleep. Someone is yelling. I jump out of bed and splash into knee-deep water. Flood! I squat in the murky waters and frantically search for my briefcase. I have spent too many hours securing those contracts to lose them now.
As my hands grasp the handle, fists bang on my room door, “Open up! You need to get out of here. The water is rising fast.”
Then I realize the danger. I am on the second floor. The first floor must be completely submerged. I stand frozen with my briefcase in hand, watching the water rise before my eyes – one inch, two, three. Am I going to die here? I think of Charles and the baby. Another inch, two. I have neglected my family, choosing my career instead. I made the wrong choice! Regret floods over me. The waters rush to catch up.
I let go of the briefcase forever and pray, “Dear Jesus, please forgive me and please stop these waters from rising!”
The waters stop. I wade into the hall and ascend the staircase with several others.
For two days and nights, we sit on the rooftop awaiting our rescue. Sounds of utter chaos, breaking glass, and gunshots rise from the river called Canal Street. My thoughts continually return to my family and the miracle as the waters stopped rising in my room.
Finally, our heroes arrive by helicopter and transport us to an island amid the flooded city. Another day passes in the deathly brutal heat. Our drinking water and sodas salvaged from the hotel are gone. We need another miracle and I know Whom to ask.
Three of us, in search of food and water, venture into the neck-high floodwaters where merchandise and debris float down the streets. My decaffeinated headache pulses incessantly, and I pray, “Jesus, will you send some Cokes?”
With total amazement, I watch a six-pack of Coke float toward us.
I pray again, “Jesus, my friends like Sprite. Will you send us some?”
Here comes a six-pack of Sprite. This is too unbelievable!
“Lord, please send some food for the children in our group.” A case of fruit cocktail arrives.
Tents, still in their boxes, bump into us. He knows what we need before we ask.
Despite my hunger, thirst, and headache, I have never known a joy so great. Jesus, in the midst of catastrophe, controls every detail. He remains faithful even when we are not.
* The character in this story is fictional, but the miracles are not. The rising water stopping in the hotel room, the delivery of the sodas and fruit cocktail, and the gift of the tents are all actual events that occurred in the wake of Katrina. All this grace was given to one family who knew to call on the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
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