Where to find shelter in the time of storm

Published 10:33 pm Saturday, June 11, 2016

It’s here. Hurricane season officially began on June 1 and officially ends November 30.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA (which coincidently rhymes with Noah), has predicted a “near-normal” Atlantic hurricane season. According to NOAA, there is “a 70 percent probability for 10 to 16 named storms (winds 39 mph or higher), of which 4 to 8 could become hurricanes (winds 74 mph or higher) including  to 4 major hurricanes (winds of at least 111 mph).”

People need to begin preparing now, the news media, weather forecasters, Red Cross, and our emergency management agency keep reminding us. Surprisingly, surveys of coastal residents suggest that most people do not prepare for storms until they are headed toward them.

Hurricane Opal taught me a lesson about these powerful storms in October 1995. The gale force winds seemed to howl most of the night as we huddled together in the hallway of our home.

Hurricane Ivan packed a similar punch in September 2004, but I went to the Red Cross shelter during the storm. Though most of us had never met, the people gathered in the shelter felt like one big family. I will always remember going through the crisis with them. Several of us volunteered to help however we were needed – serving meals, cleaning tables, or just saying a kind word to calm an anxious person.

Then the infamous Hurricane Katrina in August 2005 caused hundreds of evacuees to flee to our county. A Red Cross shelter was opened on Sunday night before the storm made landfall and our population grew by 146 in just a few hours. The faces and stories of the evacuees still come to mind.

It’s amazing how satellites and reconnaissance aircraft high above the earth can tell us when and where hurricanes are going to make landfall. If only we could see storms before they arrive in our daily lives. But these storms do not show up on Doppler radar. We do not know what’s about to happen.

Maybe it’s an unexpected diagnosis of cancer or the sudden death of a family member. It could be the loss of a job or the loss of a relationship. We need a shelter for our souls during life’s storms.

A hymn written by an English pastor named Vernon J. Charlesworth in 1869 was published in a London paper. It was said to be a favorite song of the fishermen on the north coast of England.  They were often heard singing it as they approached their harbors in the time of storm.

“The Lord’s our Rock, in Him we hide.  A shelter in the time of storm; secure whatever ill betide.  A shelter in the time of storm.” Having firsthand experience with hurricanes, I like verse three, “The raging storms may round us beat. A shelter in the time of storm; we’ll never leave our safe retreat. A shelter in the time of storm.”

Whatever storm you’re going through, remember the words of Psalm 46:1, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.”


– Jan White is an award-winning columnist. She can be reached at jwhite@andycable.com.