I heard through the grapevine (namely when they prayed at church) that Maria was looming, but the week started out normal enough. It didn’t take long to realize the widespread panic and fear that was setting in across the island. Pierre told me that while I was out with the kids, the Mayor of Isabela was driving around in one of those speaker cars warning everyone. Grocery stores were again filled to the brim with people stocking up on water and canned goods. Meanwhile, I was once again refusing to accept the reports and going about my days as usual.
On the evening beforehand I was sitting out by the water like any normal evening, knowing we had been ordered by officials to evacuate, yet having complete peace from the Lord that we needed to stay put. At that point, we lost communication with the outside world. Our generator had kicked in and cell service was gone. We were told the storm would begin in the late afternoon Wednesday, but at 5am Pierre and I awoke to strong winds and flooding. The drain holes on the porch were clogged and there was already a half a foot of water accumulated outside of our glass doors. I held the door tightly and opened it slightly so Pierre could get out and unclog the holes. Immediately the water started draining, but the heavy rains and strong winds continued forcing water into the condo.
Pierre spent the entire time mopping while I was cleaning up, putting things away from our shipping boxes, and making food. We were both singing praises to God, talking to the storm, and declaring safety over Puerto Rico. It literally felt like we were fighting the raging storm for hours. The kids continued playing in their rooms all day, totally unaffected and unconcerned. When it all ended at 1pm, we collapsed on the bed – exhausted. We waited a long while and thought it was over. The radio said it was over. Then at 2:45pm, it all started again.
Now it was coming from the other direction. Not only were our glass doors being affected, but now our wooden front door was banging. We piled unopened shipping boxes up against it. The kids evacuated their rooms because the winds were coming directly at their windows. When evening came we lit candles and sat in the living room singing together as a family until it was time to go to bed. We all piled into my bed and slept until 1am when Pierre realized the storm had ended and woke the kids to send them back to their rooms.
For the rest of the week, we started meeting our neighbors for the first time. We formed what we called The Survivors Club, and would set our beach chairs in a circle every night in the parking lot to have cookouts on gas grills. We had no electricity, our generator was completely busted, but our condo suffered no damage. Pierre had returned our car rental the day before the storm, thinking he’d be able to rent another one right after – but Maria had knocked out all of the processing systems. So now we had no cash (or access to it), no transportation, very little food, no communication with the outside world, and no power. Yet God provided.