HURRICANES AND DISASTER

The blue tarps covered a thousand different roofs.  They had told us about the devastation.  The stories will break your heart, someone told me.

Hurricanes sweep across the islands,  The wind and rains do the damage.  It’s a disaster

We turned off the highway, drove two blocks, then a right turn and a left turn.  She lived in the second home on the left.  There was no roof.

The homeowner is in her early 80’s.  A widow.  A small monthly pension  to live on.

She didn’t have much before the storm.  Even less the next morning when the sun returned.

Just her concrete block home where she raised her family.  Some pictures on the wall of her children and late husband. A few pots and pans in the kitchen and some cheap furniture in the living room.

I don’t know her name.  And, if I did, I wouldn’t tell you.  It’s private.  Confidential.  And, it’s best that way.

After the hurricane ,  her roof was gone.  Water was ankle deep inside.  Everything she owned was wet and nasty.

That’s when a contractor came by with a slick pitch and a quick promise.  He said he’d  make it better in no time at all.  He knew how much money FEMA was handing out to homeowners and little old widows. That’s exactly what he charged.

She was desperate for any kind of help, so she signed off on the deal.

He returned the next day and took her damaged roof away.  He measured and put up a few new rafters.  Then he stopped.

“I need more money to finish the job.”  he said to her.

“You said you could do the job for the money I have.” she said.

“You need to give me more money.  You don’t want to be without a roof, do you?”  He countered.  He had pushed her into a corner. “Pay me more, or I’ll pack up my tools and leave.”

“I don’t have more money.  No Insurance, no nothing.” she cried.

“Adios!” he said, leaving the poor widow stranded, no roof and worse than after the storm.

We were told this scene has been repeated a hundred times, no,  a thousand times on the Island.  And the new hurricane season is here already.

But, there is love in this old world.  A whole lot of love.

The churches are sending help.  Missions and missionaries, tool belts, power tools, lumber, roofing material, strong backs and willing hearts.  I saw the Methodists, the Lutherans, the Catholics, and the Episcopalians out in force.  There were others also.  Too many to name.  All helping someone get through a bad day, a bad week and a bad year.

Her brother came by one day to watch us work.   He’s an old man, bent by years of work. Tears were in his eyes.  Grateful.  Thankful.  She sat in the car, too frail to get out.

The neighbors stopped by, men and women, reaching out to shake our hands, hugs for all and telling us how grateful they were and how blessed we were to help.  We went to church and everyone shook our hands.  The preacher asked God to bless us for what we were doing for the widow and the others we were helping.

Some days, I get so confused about life, the ups, the downs, when everything that’s out of whack, the problems we have,  the things I want to do and the things I wish I had done.   But, let me tell you one thing, I know there’s goodness in this world.  I know there are people who forget about their problems and run to help others, especially when there’s a disaster.  I know there’s love for one’s neighbor.

Thank you to the teams at work in St. Croix and across the world.

Please feel free to share.  I encourage and welcome your comments and thoughts.  Contact Mike Windham at amwindham100@gmail.com.  Please follow my blog at mikewindham.com.

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