I was just four months old and my brother about five when Hurricane Carla hit in 1961. It was the largest by record to hit Texas and lasted about three days. I heard all the stories plenty of times growing up about the whole town being evacuated to a local church basement. How it was shoulder to shoulder, men, women, and their families. I heard about the babies crying and I heard about my brother having an accident in his pants but no one seemed to mind. We were all safe or at least in the safest place in town. There’s nothing like growing up in the Texas weather! I may not remember that one first hand but I definitely remember others.
Some storms didn’t make hurricane status but wreaked havoc on us anyway. Many nights I was awakened by Momma and Daddy running through the house putting out buckets under all the leaks. The wind would be howling through with the lightning and thunder going on outside and all that water pouring through our ceiling. That was not supposed to be happening. I always wondered where they came up with all those buckets! It would scare me so I’d go to Momma. She would grab me up and take me to my brother’s room or sometimes if it was really storming she would put both of us together on the couch in our small family room, telling us to go back to sleep.
I would start chattering from being afraid. My brother would hug me tighter and tell me to “STOP CHATTERING AND GO TO SLEEP!” Wasn’t this just like a big brother? But somehow his words were always comforting and I always tried to please him so I would clinch my teeth to stop the chattering and eventually I would drift off to sleep. He always made me feel so safe even though he was just a kid himself. To me, my brother had hung the moon, was the cat’s meow, and could do no wrong. There was nothing I wouldn’t do for him and even though he picked on me, or as he called it “surprised” me, I knew there was nothing he wouldn’t do for me.
September of 1967 brought Hurricane Beulah. This was the third largest hurricane and it was to hit the Gulf of Texas. It seemed to be far enough down the Texas coast that it wouldn’t hit shore close to us, just bringing us rain and we were used to that so we didn’t evacuate. When it did hit it was with such force it brought tornados as far north as Austin and flooding to many areas in South Texas including ours. We had been caught inside our house when the rains started and did not try to go out. When the storm stopped enough for us to go outside we could see the damage. Our home was on three acres with my grandparents and sat at a higher elevation. It looked like an island with all the water around it. Unfortunately, their home was flooded. It had about three feet of water inside. It was a chaotic day trying to salvage anything from their house.
My brother had gotten our row boat out and was rowing around the yard. I thought, “How fun, I’ll just go “surprise” him!” I was six years old at this time and not very tall and apparently, not very smart. I started walking towards my brother in the boat. This was an area I had walked, run, and played all over in. I didn’t think of it pending any danger to me even if it was covered in water. All of a sudden I found myself bobbing to reach the ground under my feet in the water! Then it was over my head! I tried to swim but all I could do was kick and thrash around! I tried to yell but the water kept engulfing me! There was nothing I could do!
You’ve heard it said that your life flashes in front of you in times of pending death, well, mine didn’t. Maybe I was just too young to have enough life to flash by? Anyway, all of a sudden I felt something grab my shirt and my head was lifted up out of the water! It was my brother. How did he know? I never was able to yell? I set out to “surprise” him so he didn’t know I started walking into the water toward him. How did he know? I learned that day just how great my brother was and that he was always keeping one eye on me, later at times, even when I didn’t want him to. I don’t know why I had so much confidence in my brother keeping me safe? He was a child also just like me but I did. I later learned there’s only one way to be truly safe and only one to be truly safe with and only one who can give me that safety.
Romans 12:10 says, “Love one another with brotherly affection.” My brother definitely demonstrated this with me. My brother died when I was fourteen, too many years too early for me and him. I couldn’t believe he was not going to be around for so many events and holidays, weekends and just hanging out under the sun and rain. After all, he did save my life that day. But we do have a brother that loves us with a brotherly affection like in Romans 12:10 who is always there and always will be, who sticks with us through everything, who is stronger, more accessible than any brother on this earth, never betrays, never deceives, never leaves as we’re told in Joshua 1:9 and so many other verses in the Bible. A brother who never “surprises” you and who saves us once where we never need to be saved again as we’re told in Matthew 3:16. His name is Jesus.
Ezekiel 2:7 says, “And you shall speak my words unto them, whether they will hear, or whether they refuse: for they are most rebellious.” We are all rebellious at some time. We all need to be grabbed up out of the flooding waters in some way. Whether you hear or whether not our God speaks to us through the storms. These may be the storms of life or real storms like the ones the Texas weather is so known for. What is your storm? What is your, “Whether!”
Hurricane Harvey made landfall in August, 2017 with the same force as Hurricane Carla in 1961. Its’ full impact is still unknown. I dedicate this blog to the victims, survivors, and rescuers.