My Daddy made it here to Pierre Part at about 2am. He didn't get to sleep long though, as my niece, Kira insisted on going to tell him "Good Morning" at about 8am. He didn't mind though. I was able to fix my dad breakfast and keep his coffee mug full...something that might not bring me as much joy ordinarily as it did this morning. Which is kind of sad.
After breakfast was done and the kids went outside and my nanny was occupied helping my mom unpack and wash clothes and such, I was able to have about 30 minutes alone with my Dad to talk about his experience.
Before I go into some of that, I have to just say that I love how emotional and sentimental my Dad has become in his "old age" (he's only 55).
The emotion and sentimentality didn't just start with this ordeal or come once he finally had time to think about what he'd been through...it started with the birth of his first granddaughter. His care and concern for us in this situation was evident as we were discussing evacutation plans. I was fine until I saw the fear in his eyes Sunday morning. If Daddy was scared, I knew this was serious and any composure I had was gone. Saying goodbye was doubly difficult knowing that he had to stay here and wait for the monster that was Hurricane Katrina to make landfall. I knew if my dad had to make a decision to keep the residents of the nursing home he works for safe, he would do it, even if it meant risking his own safety. I also knew that he was in danger even without heroics. Structural damage, debris, floodwaters, downed power lines...any number of things could cause serious injury or death. I also knew that God was in control and whatever happened would be in accordance with His will and for our good. So I prayed that Daddy's safety was the will of God...that He would also be our protector and provider...and that He would have mercy on our city yet again.
He answered each of those prayers in spades!
Daddy said that it was rough riding out the storm, but the building they were in suffered very little damage. The biggest challenges were the number of people that needed care, the limited staff and the lack of electricity. Because of the latter, patients were suffering the effects of heat and many began to deteriorate...which prompted the decision to evacuate. In the end, they lost 2 of their critical patients and a few others had to be rushed to hospitals en route to their evacuation facility in Houston.
The rest of the evacuess (my dad, the staff and their families, and even a few community members that volunteered to help with the residents in exchange for a ride out of town) were first brought to another nursing home filled with demential patients. Dad said the conditions were deplorable and he wouldn't let a dog stay the night there. They got on the phone and found a nearby church willing to host them.
Here is where he got the most choked up. What he described was the body of Christ being the body of Christ...not just giving a cup of water and a piece of bread and a place to lay one's head, but actually caring for the refugees personnally. Dad said the people running the shelter didn't seem to sleep and were constantly going around making sure everyone was comfortable and had what they needed. He was very touched and said he had a difficult time saying goodbye to the people that were so kind to him and the other evacuees.
As I am typing this, my brother Brad is whistling "Jesus Loves Me." My niece and I sing it and I guess it is rubbing off or sticking in his head or something. Whatever the case, it is truly amazing to see the Love of God touching their lives and to be here to witness and identify it. It is also good to be able to give it while the rest of my family is stressing and breaking down and arguing. The arguing has been at a minimum...for that I am thankful, too.
Mom and the girls and I are about to head out to the store to get a few more "necessities"...and I fully acknowledge that right now, our necessities would be luxuries to many.
God is so kind!