Let's just start here.
There are hundreds, no thousands of people in the Carolinas who can do nothing but watch trillions of gallons of water from Hurricane Florence slowly move east to the sea, in its path, little but destruction. Rivers have turned to seas. Half the counties in the state of South Carolina are under flood warnings. In many places, rebuilding will actually be starting over.
Just yesterday, the biggest wildfire in California state history, the Mendocino Complex was contained, 100 per cent contained. It's entirely possible you've forgotten the destruction; just for the record, the Mendocino Complex burned California for two months--hundreds of homes, 500,000 acres. The Mendocino National Forest won't really reopen until December. Some people lost everything. Everything.
Just for the record, it's been a good year for tornadoes, one of the best, in fact. Not one touched down during the first half of the year. But, also for the record, almost 800 were reported, and of that almost 600 were verified. You can't tell victims it was a good year.
What I'm saying is, I once cried out because I had no shoes, until I met a man who had no feet.
In Sioux County, Iowa, lots of folks are shop-vac-ing this morning, trying to stay ahead of water oozing in from wonderful northwest Iowa ground that's saturated from endless rains (in September!). My neighbors had it bad yesterday, when the river rose into a sea, and for them it's not over yet.
My feet down here in the basement are still dry, for which I'm thankful. We have no water in the house, but yesterday Lake Floyd broke records it set just a few months ago. Flooding shut down the road to the bridge for the first time and crept--sometimes slowly, sometimes not--all the way up to our rock garden, maybe twenty feet farther than it had ever crept before.
Sometime around 5:00 the heavens determined to send one final typhoon, so much rain in raging wind that outside our windows it seemed a blizzard. Sideways rain, maybe five minutes worth, and all of it at the very time when the monster out back was coming up ever closer to the house than it had ever done.
When, earlier, it poured in over the field behind us, I was more than anxious. Barbara claims that when I called her, my voice was shaking. Truth be told, the last two floods didn't scare me, in part because I truly believed we'd already had our one-hundred-year flood, the flood to which nothing could compare. Wrong. The neighbors said we were nowhere near the crest. I didn't need my wife to tell me my voice was shaking.
Here's what I'm thinking the morning after. First, it's no darn fun to be powerless. It's strange to sit here and realize that nothing can be done to stanch what simply will happen. We picked things up off the basement floor, and could have, I guess, called someone with a dump truck to bring in sand for a makeshift dike (a guy offered), but powerlessness is a malaise, something I swear you feel in the stomach, even though it's affects the soul.
Second, it's not that difficult to understand why, on Black Sunday, in 1935, some fine religious folks were sure the end of the world was upon them. No, I wasn't that petrified, but the stark realization that what's coming is so much bigger than you are combines with our instinctual urge to understand what's happening--all of that helped me to understand need.
At the worst of times, I didn't feel somehow as if this was the apocalypse. But I was reminded of something an old preacher told me long ago, when he said that during the really bad times, some believers, out here, used to hang their hats on Habakkuk 3: