Pray for peace, safety amid powerful hurricanes

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Holden Beach, North Carolina

I’ve never been a big fan of traveling, but there is one place on this Earth that is worth the agony of a very long trip. We drove for roughly 11 hours to arrive at my favorite place away from home, arriving Sept. 8.

We had returned to the lovely house on a tiny, quiet island in North Carolina. It was ours for a week. One glorious week!

The house sits rather high, surrounded by southern-style greenery, with a great porch for watching the tide roll in. The ocean can be seen in all directions from this wonderful vantage point.

It was peaceful and perfect the last time we visited, and way back in February we were lucky enough to find it available for a week after the rush of Labor Day.

While readying for the trip, we had heard there was a hurricane rumbling out on the Atlantic, but it sounded as though anything could happen in terms of it gathering and heading toward Bermuda, breaking up or turning north.

Planning ahead

Anything can happen in hurricane season. We kept right on planning and packing, doing double chores to be able to leave Ohio for a week. On the evening we arrived, Holden Beach, North Carolina, was just as beautiful as when we last visited.

This trip included our toddler grandson, who would see the ocean for the first time, my daughter and son-in-law, and my mother. Four generations in one big, open house, with lots of fun ahead.

We watched a vibrant, colorful sunset from the back porch, and enjoyed the peacefulness of that great place.

Sunday morning’s sunrise was spectacular. I watched it from the eastern-facing covered porch, a front row seat to a coral, orange and blue show of greatness, the sounds of the ocean offering the best soundtrack to this experience.

Inside, I could suddenly hear the undeniable sound of a toddler on the go, throttle wide open. I walked in the door to the two most joyful words. “Hey, Gigi!” our little guy said in his sing-song happy voice, and came running to me for a morning hug.

Taking in the sights

Is there anything, anywhere better than this start to a day? We walked the beach, listened to the gulls, watched the silly run of the sandpiper. There were a few families enjoying the shore, but it felt like we had the whole place to ourselves.

The pool at the house provided a refreshing swim when our littlest traveler let us know the sand felt ‘icky’ and he was ready for a rest. News began reaching us that Hurricane Florence, uninvited, was considering paying a visit anyway.

I held out hope she would be blown out to sea, far from harm to anyone. Monday, we were told we needed to evacuate. I hadn’t even finished unpacking, and we needed to start packing to leave. A great deal of food we had purchased for the week simply had to be thrown out.

My heart was heavy as I walked the beach that day. The sky was Carolina blue, big white puffy clouds providing no sign of bad weather blowing in. Meteorologists told us otherwise, and I knew this was the monster that could destroy this beautiful place where sand dunes are fragile, waterways surrounding it spelling more possibility for flooding.

I asked a store owner if he was worried, and he paused a long time before answering, “I haven’t decided yet.”

His father was busy outside the business, gathering up anything that could become shrapnel in high winds. We said our goodbyes, hoping for the best but fearing the worst.

Evacuating

The sheer size of this hurricane, rolling with rage toward the very spot where we stood — between Wilmington and Myrtle Beach — told us we needed to evacuate, without a doubt. Rainfall of up to 40 inches was expected.

It was the worst trip home ever, bar none. Nearly five hours found us at a crawl in West Virginia, due to construction pushing heavy traffic down to one lane, carrying us only 30 miles. This morning’s news reports 14 confirmed dead from Hurricane Florence.

Flooding has been so massive that reports are not yet available on how the little town of Holden has fared. Power outages in the September heat are surely complicating every aspect of this nightmare, and rains continue. Hold on, Holden.

Praying for paradise, peace and safety for all who call it home.

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Judith Sutherland, born and raised on an Ohio family dairy farm, now lives on a 70-acre farm not far from the area where her father’s family settled in the 1850s. Appreciating the tranquility of rural life, Sutherland enjoys sharing a view of her world through writing. Other interests include teaching, reading, training dogs and raising puppies. She and her husband have two children, a son and a daughter, in college.

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