Nothing is the Same

It’s been eleven days since Hurricane Michael slammed into the Florida Panhandle. Although clean-up is ongoing, nothing looks the same. Everyone in the region is learning to accept this new normal that has suddenly become our lives.

My neighbor, Sharon shot these images of our street before and after the storm. A vivid reminder of all we’ve lost, but also of our fortitude in overcoming the devastation.

My neighborhood before and after Hurricane Michael swept through the Florida Panhandle.

As a neighborhood, we’ve banded together, assisting each other with necessities, sharing our resources, and looking out for each other as we move forward.

It’s amazing to me how willing people are to forego their own comfort to ensure others, less able or physically capable of helping themselves, ensuring they have what they need and are protected from further damage to their homes or person.

I am reminded in each moment, that God places people in our lives when we need them the most. The volunteers coming into the area are without a doubt, heroes in their own right. Selflessly sacrificing their own comfort to assist in whatever capacity they are needed. As a community, we are grateful for each and every person who has risen to aid us as we recover and begin rebuilding.

My dear friend, Beverly, posted this on her Facebook page today.

The great Roman writer Vergil wrote, “forsan et haec olim meminisse iuvabit.” ( Maybe someday you will rejoice to recall even this.) My take on this is that all things in life eventually reveal the overwhelming goodness and beauty in people and life. Sometimes it takes a while. I hope all my friends and loved ones can find at least one event, moment, or experience each day that brings a feeling of joy.

In moments such as these, finding joy is certainly more difficult, but not impossible. The human spirit is a beautiful thing. I’ve seen it shine countless times as the days since the storm has come and gone.

Our homes and city may look markedly different, but the people of this region are as they have always been: Resilient, hopeful, and willing to do the hard work it takes to recover from this tragedy.

There are so many opportunities to give and to aid those devastated by this storm. As a life-long resident of Bay County, the pride I have for the people of this region is boundless. I have no doubt that despite the obstacles we face, Bay County will come back stronger and wiser for having weathered this storm.

In the meantime, if you would like to donate to relief efforts, there are many opportunities right here in the region to do so. The local news media has posted this information to assist those wanting to give aid.

As the storm was ravaging the area, my first book, Four Weeks: A Journey from Darkness, was released on Amazon. For the next four weeks, all monies I earn from the sale of the book, electronic or paperback, will be donated to The United Way of Northwest Florida for aid to victims in this region. 100% of the donations will remain in the area to assist those hardest hit by the storm.

Four Weeks is a collection of poems and reflections about finding hope in the darkest of circumstances. Reminding people that hope exists and that God walks beside us and works through us daily is a powerful message and one that is so needed at this moment. Help me spread hope throughout my devastated home.

May God continue to strengthen and guide us as we welcome each new day and each new opportunity we are blessed with.

©️ Jennifer Nelson Fenwick