Eerie silence. That’s what being inside the eye of Hurricane Laura, a high-end Cat 4 storm is like. Surviving Hurricane Laura is a blessing, but it’s also a life-changing experience we won’t soon forget.
We were inside the eye of the storm for at least an hour. And then the roar of wind gusts and the sound of objects flying around and thumping against the house started all over again.
I held my breath as I heard the strong, rough winds get even stronger. The horizontal sheets of pouring rain sounded like millions of tiny pebbles crashing against the windows.
I thanked God that my babies were sleeping through it. The terror and fear on their faces would’ve torn apart the adults who stayed awake ready to take whatever action was necessary to protect them.
As human beings, we can control many things, but natural disasters are not one of them. No matter how much we wanted to, we couldn’t prevent what was about to happen.
I did the only effective thing I could do. I prayed that the children wouldn’t wake up until it was over and that God would help us survive Hurricane Laura.
The Calm Before the Storm
My family and I knew that Hurricane Laura was coming. But we’d hoped that she’d disorganize, like Hurricane Marco did, before reaching or near the Louisiana and Texas coasts. Or that she’d lose momentum like Hurricane Rita did in 2005 and make landfall at a lower category than predicted.
Things were pretty bad after Rita. There were property damages, downed power lines, and water outages that lasted close to three weeks.
We felt Rita, but she was nothing compared to Hurricane Laura, who made landfall fall near then hovered over the city of Lake Charles, Louisiana for what seemed like forever.
She wreaked all sorts of havoc in that city before heading up to our area as a category three.
Preparing to Survive Hurricane Laura
We took every step recommended to prepare for surviving Hurricane Laura.
Since our homes weren’t located in areas prone to flooding, there was no mandatory evacuation. But we boarded windows, stocked up on non-perishable items, water, first aid kits, batteries, and so on, to hunker down.
Truth be told, we didn’t expect Hurricane Laura to make landfall as a high-end category four just five miles per hour away from a category five. Rita threatened to make landfall as a category five, but then weakened and made landfall as a three. She was our point of reference.
The Storm Hits
The worse part of a storm is the anticipation.
It’s knowing that the inevitable is coming, hoping that it’ll go down a certain way, but not knowing what to expect.
Forecasters can predict a plethora of scenarios based on models and prior storm behavior, but the reality is that no one knows what a storm will do until it impacts their area.
The power went out as soon as Laura’s outer bands began to make their way into our location.
My youngest son, the hero of the night, made sure that everyone had a flashlight and that we were as safe as could be in the room he prepared for us to shelter in place.
The Right Front Side of Hurricane Laura
There’s nothing worse than being located to the right side of a hurricane.
While every side is dangerous, the east side or right front quadrant, as weather experts refer to it, packs the greatest punch second only to the eyewall. Meteorologists say that it’s because of the forward motion contributing to the storm’s rotation.
Just like with Rita, Laura had us directly in her path. We continuously monitored her progress on our cell phone weather apps, which thank God, were still operational.
The radar indicated that she was making her way north at 15 mph. We were already surrounded by the outer bands and it didn’t feel or sound good. Within a few hours, we’d be absorbed by Laura’s right front side, and then after that, the eyewall.
I kept praying and telling myself to remain calm; that it was going to be okay; that we were all going to see another day.
There’s a good reason these storms are called that.
In we went.
The first round and I already knew that Rita was a trip to Disney World.
Inside The Eerie Silence of The Eye of The Storm
Bang, thump, swoosh, and what seemed like millions of pebbles crashing against the windows.
The same sounds as when the right front side of Laura entered our area.
Only this time it was louder and with greater force.
I continued to monitor the app to see if Laura was losing speed and what part of her we were in.
She was still a category three and we were entering the eye.
I texted family and friends further north to let them know we were about to enter the eye. They were experiencing Laura’s front right quadrant.
The banging, thumping, swooshing and horizontal rain continued for what seemed like forever.
Then all of a sudden everything shifted from massive wind gusts to an eerie silence.
We were surrounded by it.
I checked the weather app.
We had just entered the eye of the storm.
The only sound we heard was the voices of neighbors who’d stepped out of their homes to take advantage of the 45 minutes to one hour window of calm to assess damages.
It Was Pitch Dark
Flashlights enabled my son and his neighbors to check on their properties. However, they didn’t allow them to see the full extent of what had transpired all around us.
Almost an hour later, the rain and wind gusts started up again.
My son came back inside to ride out the final round: the other side of the eyewall.
I’d left the weather app open to the radar. My son looked at it and pointed to the areas of the storm we’d already been through.
He looked at me encouragingly and said, “Mom, look at what we made it through. The worse is over. If we were able to get through that, the rest is a piece of cake.”
My son was right about what we had already experienced.
The ride was coming to an end. It was almost time to get off.
We made it.
We survived Hurricane Laura.
But the eerie silence of the eye of the storm changed us forever.
We Survived Hurricane Laura
It was about seven in the morning when things began to calm down some. I was able to fall asleep for about an hour or so.
When I awoke, my son, daughter-in-law, her mom, and my youngest grandson were up and about.
A strong smell of gas filled the air.
The Fire Department was notified and were on their way to identify the source and shut it off.
My son had already been outside to further assess damages.
He came back in and told me that what we heard and experienced didn’t match the devastation that had taken place outside.
Feeling shaky and ambivalent, I stepped out to see for myself.
My son’s and the neighbor’s house to the right were spared. They experienced damages, but they were minimal compared to other houses in the area.
I stood in front of the house to the left of my son’s and tears flooded my eyes.
It looked like someone fashioned arrows out of huge pine and oak trees, and used the house for target practice.
I was relieved to learn that the owner wasn’t in the home when it happened.
From the looks of the house, she wouldn’t have survived Hurricane Laura.
Lessons Learned From The Eye of The Storm
I’m sitting here putting the finishing touches to this post and thinking about the thousands of people displaced, and those who lost loved ones.
I’ve found that when things like Hurricane Laura happen, the tragedy isn’t in the natural disaster itself. It’s in the lack of compassion and caring by people who go about their business as if nothing has happened simply because it didn’t happen to them.
Right now, there are people in Southwest Louisiana, Lake Charles in particular, who survived Hurricane Laura but are completely displaced.
Children, who’ve lost what was comfortable and familiar to them.
Families who were struggling to stay afloat before Laura, who are hurting, even more, post-Laura.
Moreover, there are people who are grieving the loss of loved ones, and thousands of residents without power and running water.
My family and I, we’re still without power but we’re among the lucky ones.
The greatest lesson I learned in the eye of the storm is that we’re all interconnected. When one of us hurts, those of us with the ability to ameliorate their suffering should step up to bat.
We never know when the need to survive the Hurricane Laura’s of the world will come knocking on our doors. What we freely give in the time of pain and suffering of others, will flow to us when we’re the ones in need.
I’ve written about living authentically, something that was further impressed upon me in the stillness of the eye of the storm. Every single minute of our lives counts.
We should live them to the fullest of who we authentically are at our cores, and in service to each other.
A Call To Action
I end every blog post with a call to action.
This call is dedicated to the thousands of Lake Charles residents who survived Hurricane Laura, but who lost it all, and who are struggling and grieving.
If you find it in your heart to help, you can do so by contributing to the United Way of Southwest Louisiana Hurricane Laura Response Fund by texting LAURA to 40403.
You can also donate to the American Red Cross Hurricane Laura Relief Fund at redcross.org, or by calling 1-800-HELP-NOW (1-800-435-7669).
If all you can donate is one dollar, I assure you that it’ll make a difference.
Thank you for your support, and for hanging in there with me.
Until the next blog post.
Much love and peace,