36: Hurricane Rita and Her Silver Lining

36: Hurricane Rita and Her Silver Lining

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Count Your Blessings

Hurricane Rita and Her Silver Lining

A crisis is an opportunity riding the dangerous wind.
~Chinese proverb

It was Thursday, September 22nd, and Rita had been upgraded to a Category 5 hurricane and was headed directly for Houston! My husband and I knew we needed to get out of town. We had a full tank of gas, a cooler filled with water and food, a few suitcases, a Bible and reservations at a hotel in Kerrville—just a four-and-a-half-hour drive away. Panic was settling in and gasoline and water were running out quickly. It was time to go!

We left at noon but we weren’t the only ones desperate to get out of town; the roads quickly became clogged with traffic. It was suggested on the radio to drive as long as we could with no air conditioning in order to conserve gas. Unfortunately, it was 107 degrees when we left. We talked about taking the chance and running the A/C. We began to pray.

We prayed for safety and protection, and for courage and strength. We even prayed for our tank of gas and we carefully monitored the needle on the gas gauge. Surprisingly, when it reached the point of being half empty it didn’t move again for a very long time. In fact, our single tank of gas lasted twelve hours, during which we drove just under one hundred miles from Tomball to Giddings and watched in horror as numerous cars pulled off the road from being overheated or from running out of gasoline. There were hundreds of vehicles lined up on both sides of Highway 290. We passed gas station after gas station, all with no gas to purchase.

After finally fueling up in Giddings, we reached Kerrville some seventeen hours after our trip had begun. However, the adventure continued. The hotel where we had reservations sold our pre-paid rooms out from under us and we couldn’t find a hotel within 200 miles that had any vacancy. With the increasing number of people evacuating Houston, all they could do was refer us to the Red Cross.

We weren’t sure what to do, and so we decided to head home and try to make it back before Rita hit Houston. At a minimum, we could return to Brenham and stay at a shelter there for the night. After all, we saw nearly twenty National Guard trucks arrive as we were pulling out of town earlier that day. Surely, they were pitching tents and setting up shelter for those in need.

Well, God had other plans, and it didn’t take long before we were referred to a friend of a friend who had a house in Kerrville. Once again, we weren’t alone. There was a family that had traveled up from Baytown. Robert and Debi had with them their two grandsons and four dogs. They too had evacuated Houston because of the hurricane, and they too had no place to stay. Our “friends of friends” opened their home to me and my husband and to our new friends and their four dogs.

Not only were Jerri and Bill gracious hosts, they also ran a beautiful bed and breakfast out of their home and they gave us Victorian-decorated rooms with all the comforts of a grand hotel. We spent the next two days together in our place of refuge, enjoying the safety provided us, delighting in the plentiful food and drink, and learning about the lives of our new friends. Those were two very special days, and it was then we learned that even hurricanes have silver linings.

Sunday, my husband and I returned to Houston where we discovered that our home and belongings were intact. We hugged each other in tears and shared our thanksgiving.

~Kristen Clark

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