Hurricane Matthew: When it Hit

I woke up Tuesday morning at around 5:00 for a few different reasons. Of course I was nervous about the upcoming weather but I also had 35 other people (some of whom were strangers to me) staying with me and our kids were right outside our door. It almost seems like their number one goal, when they wake up in the morning, is to make sure that everyone else wakes up at the same time they do. Anyway, I was up at 5:00 and there was nothing happening. There was a little rain, virtually no wind, and everything seemed to be going ok. I knew that there were mountains between us and the storm and I was hoping that they would shield us, and so far they were. We heard reports of 2 fisherman who had drowned in Jacmel the day before and we knew that it was much worse in other parts of the country, but so far we were perfectly fine. So we got up and 2 of our girls made breakfast, and what I mean by that is that they opened up a bag of corn flakes and some canned milk (to which they add a ridiculous amount of sugar, I mean more sugar than I think I use in an entire month) and everyone had corn flakes. We then started the first of about 9 movies (including all 3 High School Musicals and Princess Bride) that we would show over the next 14 hours while we waited out the storm.

At about 9:00 it started to really rain hard and this was the first sign that something was really coming. In fact, I am pretty sure that before that the kids thought that I was making everything up and that nothing was really going to happen. Then, at 11:00, things got pretty crazy. The wind for the next 4 hours would be constant and I know that there were gusts that topped 100mph because I had never heard or seen wind like that even through a couple of tropical storms in Jacksonville. Our youngest kids, I am pretty sure, were so engrossed in the movies that they never even knew the wind was blowing, but you could see the concern (and a little fear) in the eyes of our older kids. I assured them that we would be ok but that we really needed to pray for the rest of the country and I believe they finally understood why I kept saying that at this point. We have a small patch of tin roof on the very top of the stairs leading to our roof, and I have no idea how it held because it sounded like someone was banging on it for about 4 hours.

I called Jess right around this time and she said that it looked like the eye of the hurricane, based on the national weather center report, was right on the southwestern tip of Haiti and the northern and northeastern bands of the storm were hitting us then. There were some huge gusts, but the sustained winds actually were not as bad as I thought they would be. Between 11:00 and noon we thought the worst of it may be over because it seemed like we were weathering the strength of the storm…we were wrong. While the mountains had given us some protection from the front side of the storm, they gave us no protection from the backside, and the backside of the storm was coming up on us.

Between about 1:00 and 3:00, at least for us, was by far the worst part of the storm. For those 2 hours the wind was a constant barrage with gusts that could do some major damage to homes and places that were not as well built as ours. We made it through the storm well, only losing about 5 plantain trees and a papaya tree in the backyard, but after seeing the force of the storm I could only imagine what the rest of the area and the rest of the country must look like. Most of our employees chose to weather the storm at their own homes and I was praying and hoping that they and their families were ok. As I type this on Wednesday morning, I am going to have 2 of our house moms come in and begin to get the kids settled back in their own home and then I will go out and see what is going on in the rest of the community. I will be blogging about that soon, and I am praying that what I see is not as bad as it could potentially be. I already have a few pictures and some video that I took of our backyard, but like I mentioned before, I was content riding out the storm in our house and making sure our kids were ok. The rain was hard and constant, the wind was different than anything I had seen, but we were ok and the house was fine and that is what I was primarily concerned about on this day!

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