I watched the news today and I am struck dumfounded by the devastation left behind from Irma, Maria and Harvey. The hurricane season has been humbling, terrifying and has left many without basic resources. I have committed to donate a portion of my sales from J and J Gallery and I am happy to report that the recent sale of Siesta Sand and Surf is helping to fund the American Red Cross in their efforts to help those impacted by these storms. Please join me in helping those who need help desperately.
My recent painting Eye of the Storm, coming soon to the web site is my depiction of the fury of the storm. Irma is the storm that affected my family. We had to evacuate our home, it is in an area that is flood prone and the evacuation order was mandatory. I took our two dogs, my parents and all the stuff we could cram in the back of my mini truck and started driving north at 1 am. We stopped for gas, water and a snack and arrived with many other refugees at a hotel that allowed large dogs. (There were more dogs then people.) The drive took 10 hours. But we were lucky, we found a room and we were safe. We worried about our friends who would ride the storm out. We worried about the millions of people in Caribbean islands being decimated. We waited for Irma to pick her path. The storm slowed down, we begged extra time from the hotel. They could not have been nicer. We killed time, talked with others and we waited. We watched the predictions of storm surge that would if it arrived swallow everything in its path. We heard from friends who told us all the water in our bays had sucked out to sea, leaving mud beds and creating the appearance of a tsunami. If it came back all at once it would be catastrophic. We became news junkies. We turned the TV off and went for a walk. I wished I had my paints with me. Anxiety mounted and when morning came after the storm we were lucky.
One friend reported a body being dragged from the canal. It was an elderly man who went out to secure his boat and never returned. But mostly we survived. The predicted surge never came, the storm fell apart when it altered its course just enough to save this area. But so many people were not lucky.
We planned our return, buying gas tanks and an ice chest holder to attach to my hitch. We bought 6 gallons of gas. We bought water, and we started out as soon as we could brave the remnants of the storm. So did everyone else. We were in for a 14 hour drive. We could not get gas after Atlanta, so we used our own. We stopped at a rest site and saw people stranded. We gave two gas cans away, but had to keep the rest. We saw hundreds of volunteers, first responders, military, and power companies from as far North as Canada driving along side of us coming to our rescue, to restore power, to bring supplies, to clear debris.
We started honking and giving thumbs up along the way. We made a sign. Thank you!!!! We were not too proud or too cool to want to say thank you. People were at their best and at their worst. That is what disasters do. They show us who runs into the storm to save others and who ignores the needs of others.
When we got home it was chaos, downed trees, and no power. But we got lucky and power returned. We started putting our lives back together. Many stayed without power. Food spoiled and tempers rose. But everyone was working as hard as they could. For us life continues more or less as normal. For many that is not true.
Yes, the city has not cleared all the debris by the sides of the roads. On Saturday the power suddenly went out. It seemed ominous and it was. A man clearing branches encountered a live wire and was killed and in one moment his family lives changed forever. We are so grateful to those thousands and thousands of volunteers and workers who work around the clock for us. We pray for the man who was electrocuted and his family. We gave Gatorade to the workers. It seemed a pathetic gesture, but they appreciated it.
I hope and pray that this Hurricane Season is over. Harvey, Irma and Maria cut horrible swathes. They displaced people and animals. Do what you can to help. I donated supplies to the local volunteer group. I am taking a check to the Red Cross. I know, when I am ready, I will paint my feelings on canvas and release some of the pent up feelings.