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Inching Closer

This morning, I got up bright and early.  The dogs and I were headed to our next destination.  My boys had gotten used to changing course every few days and seemed up for another adventure.

First, though, was the task of loading up the car.  Even though I really didn’t have much, it still took a little while to get everything organized.  Normally, I’d have the Mr. to help me out, but with him at home doing the important work of helping coordinate emergency services, I was on my own.

I went into my hosts’ main house and said my final goodbyes.  The hugs were tight and heartfelt, and I managed to keep my emotions at bay.

I told them that their home had been a place of rest for my tender heart – that I was in a better place emotionally than the day I’d shown up shell-shocked and numb.  T and L truly are angels on earth.

As I walked out to my car, I stopped and took in the sight of their pool and the land beyond.

I shed a few tears in those moments, partially from exhaustion but also from a deep sense of gratitude.

Then, I loaded up the boys, and we headed out.

I called Super Sis and let her know I was on the way.  I also texted the in-laws.  Everyone was waiting for me, eager to help bridge the gap between my need to be cared for and my desire to be home.

It had been awhile since I’d driven from Auburn to Tallahassee, so I let my phone’s map guide me.

Y’all, it took me down the scenic route, let me tell you.

I’m glad it did.

Driving through Eufaula always brings back fond memories.  The main drag is one of the prettiest canopied roads you’ll ever see.

As I traveled further and further south and drove down small, back-country roads, the amount of destruction from the storm increased.  I’m not sure that many people really understand how far-reaching this storm was.

I drove through small towns like Colquitt and Blakely, and I was literally blown away by the number of downed trees and power lines.

I passed an untold number of torn up houses and yards littered with debris.  I saw many businesses with missing roofs.

I pray that these people aren’t lost in the shuffle.  They need a lot of help!

We stopped once, about halfway into our trip, and I let the dogs out to potty.  I was struck by the damage even at that one gas station; the debris from felled trees right in front of me.

I can’t imagine what it will be like when I go home and see this in every direction.

As I drove into Tallahassee, three songs played on the Christian station, and I cried a little more with each one.  I felt as though God was speaking directly to me, reminding me that He is here, that He will restore, and that He will heal that which was broken.

After a pit stop at a vet’s clinic for some meds for the dogs, I hopped across town to my in-laws’ house.

The dogs were nervous.  I don’t know that they’d been at the house before since I always keep them at home when we visit family.

Then, we went to Super Sis’s house.  This is where we will actually be staying, but we will go back and forth between the two houses since they live two streets away from each other.

I’m thankful for this family of mine.  They’ve graciously opened up their homes for as long as I need them.  They both have fenced-in yards for the dogs.

I ate dinner with the in-laws.  It was the first real meal I’d eaten in days.  In fact, it was the first time I’d felt hungry enough to eat a decent amount of food.

Grand Pooba worked hard to make friends with Gambit.  Gambit is very leery of new people – especially men.  Corn chips did the trick, though.

Pele needed little coaxing.  He was in it for the chips.

The dogs settled in after dinner, finally calming down enough to rest.

We hoofed it back to Super Sis’s house in time to watch Dancing With the Stars before calling it a night.

I’m staying in what used to be my eldest nephew’s room.  He’s Rooster’s age and living on his own now.  Sis had prepared it for me and even left me empty shelves to place my stuff on.  She is thoughtfulness personified.

I feel so fortunate.  I have the creature comforts that my neighbors and friends back home are lacking right now.  I feel bad about this, but the Mr. feels better knowing that I am safe and comfortable, and that the dogs (especially sweet, old Pele) have their needs being tended to.

I spoke with the Mr. this evening.  He sounded worn out.  Twelve-hour shifts will do that to a person.

He told me that there’s still no water and, thus, no sewer system.  He’d cleaned out the refrigerator and freezer.  Apparently, we had more stuff than I’d realized.

He also told me that he’d called our insurance company to get the ball rolling on things.  We are going to need to re-shingle the entire house, essentially putting on a new roof.  I guess we lost more than I’d originally thought.  He also told me that we will likely have water damage from where the freezer leaked.  He’s concerned about mold and mildew as well since we’ve been without power for nearly a week.

The Mr. told me that he had handed out plywood and clips to our neighbors.  I suggested that he give them the soup and other stuff I’d bought before the hurricane, but I think my neighbors are leaving town for awhile to regroup.  Bless their hearts, but they have been real troopers and have been there since the storm hit.

The Mr. told me that the landscape has completely changed – that I won’t recognize the skyline when I drive in to town.  It’s a sight I’m both dreading yet looking forward to as it will mean that I’m home.

The president visited my small town today.  If you look up Lynn Haven, you’ll see footage.  I only learned of it when T, my hostess, texted me this afternoon to make sure I’d made it to Tallahassee safely.  She asked about the name of my town and told me about the president.

I’m glad that he got to meet our mayor.  She’s a fabulous lady – a former teacher – who had already made incredible improvements to our town.  She’s doing a fabulous job coordinating the restoration of services; her staff provides detailed updates each day on the town’s Facebook page.

Please continue to pray for us.  Don’t forget about us as the days turn into weeks.

Please pray for those who are displaced.  It’s so hard to see my friends and coworkers who have left and are trying to find a new normal.  We miss each other as evidenced by our Facebook comments.  Even though I really do feel as though we got along well before, this storm has knit our hearts even more tightly together.

Every day, we inch a little closer to a joyous reunion.  I can already feel the tears welling up.  Better send a hefty supply of Kleenex.  I’m going to need it when that day finally gets here.

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