Hurricane Michael is making its way onto shore while I write this. Michael is 350 miles across, 90 miles in diameter, and very ugly. This is a storm that’s roughly the size of South Dakota, arriving on Floridian soil like an unwanted houseguest.
I am miles away, watching a television while this storm batters Franklin County, Gulf County, and Bay County.
The big TV in the corner of this restaurant is tuned to the Weather Channel. The joint is nearly empty, the lunch rush is over. A few people gather around the screen, arms crossed, eyes unblinking.
We are a varied lot of strangers.
There is a woman with her hand over her mouth, watching TV. Her name is Ellen. Her mother lives in Gulf County, and she can’t get a hold of her.
Gulf County is a war zone right now. The live-coverage proves this. And Ellen is a mess. The TV shows palm trees bending forward, 100-foot waves swallowing boardwalks, flooded highways.
Mexico Beach is devastated. Port Saint Joe is waterlogged. Apalachicola is covered.
Between reports of tribulational destruction, the TV rolls commercials which advertise: Metamucil, Capital One credit cards, chocolate-flavored laxatives, Quaker Oats, and how to get a good deal on a reverse mortgage.
But when the commercials are over, we who gather at the television remain silent while the monster makes landfall.
I recognize the places shown on TV. One reporter is perched only fifteen miles from my front yard. I can sympathize with Ellen, worrying about her mother. In fact, I have been sick about my own mother—who decided to stay behind and weather out the storm.
I texted my mother a few minutes ago.
She texted back: “The wind has gotten bad, we’ve moved to the back room, but we’re okay. I love you.”
Then, I texted my sister—who also stayed behind. She wrote: “I’m scared, please pray for us.”
So while I write…