As the storm threatens much of the East Coast, I am struck by how gentle the weather is today. The maple tree we planted to honor the birth of our first child is crimson, its leaves edged in dark gold and brown. The sun is shining brightly, an unexpected sunburst between days of chill and rain. The forecast is dreary as we approach the heart of autumn, but the mild clime is comforting. I am feeling rather gloomy today. Unlike the sun, I have not emerged from the rain yet.
There’s not much chance of running into a hurricane here. In fact I miss the sharp crack of thunder that accompanies hot summer storms, and the way the winds nearly push you over. I miss the anticipation of a good storm, though soberly I realize that extreme weather poses real danger to those it meets unprepared. Heat, ice, fog, wind… we cannot fully control weather as it marks and tosses and drowns and burns everything in its path.
Across the Caribbean, close to 70 people have lost their lives due to Hurricane Sandy. Most of them were Haitian men and women, a truth that saddens me. The nation of Haiti has suffering in its soul. For two years I lived a few hours from its border with the Dominican Republic, and I also experienced the devastation that a hurricane brings. While training inland, I was far from the eye of Hurricane Georges, but its winds and rain reached us anyway. When we returned to the city, I was left to walk home through roads that were impassable by car. Motorbikes zoomed right and left, avoiding debris, as people piled zinc ripped from roofs into stacks along the road. The scent of burning plastic filled the air.
Crumbling streets and constrained resources left the most vulnerable unable to rebuild their homes. There was no power for weeks. Water was rationed. People got sick, some of my friends and me among them. Dengue fever, a feverish disease spread by mosquitoes is not life-threatening (usually), but it is uncomfortable, and struck many of my friends, neighbors and me at some point that year. I landed in a city hospital — but that’s another story.
Someone will die tonight.
In these times of unpredictable weather and potential for dire consequences, I wish caution and security for my loved ones, and their loved ones, across the miles. Thank you to the first responders who are working nonstop to help prevent tragedy and for healing those who are hurt.