Hurricane Irma Response: Update from Naples, Florida
by Eric Hausler, Pastor, Christ the King OPC, Naples, Florida (Friday, September 8, 2017)
As of this morning, the projected path of Hurricane Irma has shifted to the west toward SW Florida and Naples, making landfall very close to us as a Category 4 Hurricane.
Our local station just said as I am writing this, “With our next graphic, I do not want to scare you, but you need to know that the European Meteorological Projection of sustained winds for SW Florida has estimated sustained winds of 60-90 mph and wind gusts of up to 120 mph as the storm passes."
It has been surreal here the last few days not knowing where this storm will make landfall: People are on edge all over town as I’ve seen loud parking lot arguments, road rage incidents, and shopping-cart-rage incidents in stores! Some gas stations have long lines down the street, others are completely empty because they have no more gas; Some people are making diligent preparations, others are complacent or have no clue what they’re going to do; Some people evacuated days ago, others have been told by employers that if they leave, they will lose their job.
The members and friends of Christ the King OPC have been reporting in to me over the last couple of days: a lot of them have evacuated enduring the long back-ups along I-75, some are still heading north, some are in other parts of Florida or other states, and many have decided to remain here at home or in shelters. We have hurricane shelters open all around town, but now they are talking about a storm surge that covers our entire county - and if you’ve ever been to SW Florida you know how flat it is and that the only hills are bridges over highways! Thankfully, my own family has evacuated two days ago along with a friend to Northern Georgia, and I have plans to hunker down at the chaplain's office inside the Naples Jail Center which is built like a fortress and has powerful generators for A/C and water. I plan to return to my house in East Naples after the storm (if it is still standing) where I have a generator, gas, lots of water, food, ice, coolers, batteries and candles.
Please join us in praying:
- for a couple of our church's widows who will be staying in local storm shelters or hunkering down at home with hurricane shutters that the Lord would protect them and keep them safe - one of the widows has COPD
- for many from our church who are hunkering down in homes and do not want to leave town or go to a shelter
- for those who are a still on I-75 today enduring long traffic back-ups
- for my Haitian and Latino friends in town who live in low-income apartment complexes where they intend to ride out the storm - I have showed many of them photos of Hurricane Andrew’s destruction - they have no idea!
- for our local officials who are managing and staffing emergency shelters and evacuation routes.
- for the first responders who will have their hands full during and following the storm
- for the uncertain days ahead - four of our families live in mobile home parks that will most likely suffer catastrophic terrible damage, others have homes in low-lying areas near the coast or inland water ways, all our homes are in the warning zone for high winds and storm surge
- for the Lord to have mercy on us and use this developing tragedy for good and for the spread of the Gospel.
In Christ, our faithful Savior and King,
Eric Hausler, Pastor