Neighbor’s house on fire, Street where the Sisters live
By Sister Gerard Earls, CCVI
On the morning of August 27, 2020, Hurricane Laura bashed into Lake Charles, Louisiana with ferocious force of winds up to 150 miles an hour. It has been one of the worst hurricanes to have hit Lake Charles in years — worse than Hurricane Rita by any comparison. In comparing it to Rita, it was said that Rita’s damage was more from water while damage from Hurricane Laura was that of high winds.
As Sister Mary Kamara and I pondered what to do, we were in a dilemma to evacuate to Houston ahead of it because the weather predictions were not too comforting — the storm was aimed for Houston! As we prayed and waited for daily and ongoing updates from the weather bureau, time was running out to attempt a drive out of town to Houston. The man, from whom we are renting our present convent, Teach Mhuire, invited us to stay with him and his wife and so we did.
We felt very secure having other adults around as we sat up throughout the night listening to the howling wind and rain and watched the neighbor’s house next door go up in flames. We felt very safe in the comfortable and sturdy structure of our landlord’s home. I couldn’t help but think of what it must have been like for our Sisters and children in the 1900 Galveston Storm. We prayed the words “Queen of the Waves” and felt very present to their tragedy. I will tell you that I was never so happy to see daylight!! The daylight gave us the true perspective of the horrific damage, not only to our neighborhoods but to the whole community of Lake Charles. Two words described the aftermath — SEVERE DEVASTATION!!!
The question that comes to mind is where and how does one begin to start again. It is simply from a deep faith and a resilience to go on. With power lines down for miles around resulting in no electricity, trees down everywhere blocking every road that made transportation impassable, and with extensive damage to radio and TV station, there was little or no communication. Access to water was in short supply. Within 24 hours, clean-up crews started pouring in as people began
assessing the damage to their property. Food trucks, as well as other support services, were arriving in town to provide the basic necessities as there were no grocery stores or pharmacies open. As one day rolled into another, there was a glimmer of hope seen as the log companies began cutting up the large trees and clearing main roads for necessary commuting, as well as electrical companies accessing the power damage to poles and transformers. Our street, Orchard Drive, opened up one way which allowed Sr. Mary and I access and so we felt it was safe enough to make our way to Houston on Sunday.
Now that we have the security of “being home” we feel blessed and grateful for all the prayers and concern on our behalf. We continue to pray for the many friends, neighbors, and residents who are faced with the daily reality of beginning to rebuild their lives and their communities.