The images of Hurricane Sandy are still in my mind.
In October 2012, nearly eight years ago, Hurricane Sandy wreaked havoc on the east coast. If you live in this area, words may flash through your head to describe the experience.
Even after the storm had run its course, we still suffered the consequences. Lines at the gas station clogged traffic for miles. Our homes were without power for weeks. Trees were everywhere, knocking down sheds and crushing cars. And I know that all I need to do is type the word flood for every Long Islander to shudder.
Are We Still in a Storm?
If you’re not from the east coast, you may not believe that some of us are still suffering from the effects of Hurricane Sandy. Some homes, especially near the water, are still being rebuilt. Those looking for homes need to consider property taxes and the massive flood insurance tacked onto the price of a house. Many of us live in fear of another destructive storm wiping away everything we ever knew.
I could argue that we are in a storm right now. But instead of a visible storm, it’s one where we can only see its effects. This post isn’t to make light of the severity of the situation. We have enough people making jokes about stores running out of toilet paper or the President cancelling student loan interest. This post isn’t to ignore what has already been said about how to respond. We should keep washing our hands and staying alert as the world tries to navigate this virus. But what I don’t see a lot of right now is hope. And I want to encourage you to look for hope, even in the midst of isolation, fear, and uncertainty.
Allow me to do that by sharing my experience during Hurricane Sandy.
What Happened to Me?
In 2012, I was in my junior year at Nyack College. I was dorming with my best friend in an all-girls hall. Besides my roommate, I didn’t really talk to the other ladies on my floor, except in passing. I had no reason to leave my personal bubble to pursue a friendship with any of them.
Suddenly, the news in the dining hall warned us that a storm was coming our way. The rain, wind, and darkness came almost as soon as the warnings. Before we knew it, classes were cancelled and we were asked to find shelter. We waited days that turned into weeks for our life to go back to normal.
Lots of Darkness, Wind, and Uncertainty
If I could describe my entire experience during Hurricane Sandy, it was what I saw out of my window each morning. From the third floor corner room, a tall, thick tree swayed in the wind. Every day, I wondered if the wind would eventually rip it up from the ground and send it flying into our window. But even after the storm, it stood strong and in place.
That’s how I want to be in the middle of life’s storms.
Even though classes were cancelled, we were required to complete homework assignments and midterms. When I tried to flick on the light in my dorm room, I was only met with darkness. Oh no. The power was out. It was dark in my room, and I was alone.
Until I opened up the door to my room and discovered the hallway light was on.
Coming Out of Hiding
Apparently, the other ladies on my floor had this same thought. We all ended up sitting outside our bedrooms, our laptops plugged into outlets in the hallway. And suddenly, we started talking to one another.
Our conversation started out as complaining about the weather and the spotty internet. But then it got deeper, and as the winds and rains pounded on our windows, we were laughing at each other’s jokes and playing UNO on the floor.
We made a daily habit of hanging out in the hallways. We worshiped louder and stronger than ever before, because we had a reason to believe that God is faithful in every season of our lives. Even the ones where the darkness overshadows the sunlight.
The Silver Lining in the Dark Cloud
During Hurricane Sandy, I made some of the best friends I’ve ever had. I would’ve never paid any attention to them if it wasn’t for the tragedy that we all shared together. Even after the sun came out, we chatted with each other on the way to class and ate meals together in the cafeteria.
The images of Hurricane Sandy were brutal, but they were also beautiful. In the midst of darkness and depression, I discovered true friendship. While eating microwaved bean burritos in the dining hall and covering myself in blankets to keep warm, I found joy. Even though my school made an announcement that we should go home in this state of emergency and my home was without power, I learned how to be strong in the face of fear.
Hope in the Storm
So while we are washing our hands and stocking up on essentials, like we should, we should also be aware that these storms are part of life. After this coronavirus has ended, we’ll face another one in a couple of years. I know this because we’ve been through a number of storms in the past few decades. I mean, have you seen the news? Violence, destructive weather, and deathly illnesses have been on our headlines for centuries. We’ve gone through storms before, and we’ll get through this one.
I’ve gone through some storms in my personal life, as well. These personal storms that may seem small to you, but were catastrophic to me. But, like the tree that rocked back and forth in the harsh wind, God kept me grounded and secure.
May God strengthen us and give us hope even in the midst of these uncertain times. I thank God for all the medical staff and experts who know how to handle this virus better than I can ever imagine. But I know that we will see the end to this.
For now, let us be grateful for the chance to rest, for the opportunity to connect with family, and for the promise that God is doing something so great in our midst that we can’t even comprehend it.
An Ever-Present Help
Psalm 46 is a reminder that God is in control and He is with us:
“God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore, we will not fear, though the earth gives way
and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam
and the mountains quake with their surging.
“There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy place where the Most High dwells.
God is within her, she will not fall;
God will help her at break of day.
Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall;
he lifts his voice, the earth melts.
“The LORD Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.
“Come and see what the LORD has done,
the desolations he has brought on the earth.
“He makes wars cease
to the ends of the earth.
He breaks the bow and shatters the spear;
he burns the shields with fire.
He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.”
“The Lord Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.”