Parish Diary

Fr. Peter Daly

August 30, 2011

Hurricane Irene

Fr. Peter Daly talks about Hurricane Irene.


            Oh Irene! What have you done?

            Your name means peace but you have been anything but peaceful. You have left a trail or wreckage from the Outer Banks to the Grand Banks. You took lives and property and homes and businesses. Some people will never be the same.

            Once again we are recovering from a Hurricane. It was bad. Not as bad as predicted and not as bad as it could have been, but it was still bad.

            In our semi-rural area, the big problem was falling trees. The winds got up to 60 miles an hour and we got more than 10 inches of rain overnight. With the soft ground and the high winds, trees were falling everywhere.

            On our parish property we lost a good many trees, but they didn’t do much damage when the fell. Most trees toppled harmlessly beside the church and rectory and in our cemetery or athletic field.

Two trees fell where I usually park my car. I had moved it to the center of our parking lot to avoid that problem. But when I saw the trees in my usual parking space, I regretted it. “Darn,” I thought, “I could have had a new car!”

A lot of people weren’t so lucky.

Deacon Ed and his wife Marie lost their house when two huge trees fell on it. The first one fell in their kitchen, crushing that end of the house. They ran from the bedroom to the kitchen to see the damage. Good thing too, because the second tree fell on their bedroom. If they had been in it, they might be gone.

After the second tree fell, water was pouring into the house. So they decided to leave and go to their daughter’s house. As they pulled out of the driveway, a tree fell across the driveway behind them. They got out by a hair’s length.

Lot’s of other people in our area lost their homes from crashing trees. Not far away there was a tornado spawned by Hurricane Irene’s passing.

Whole neighborhood lost power and were without power for days.  Trees were hanging on power lines everywhere.

We lost power at the church for twenty-four hours. Masses were said by daylight coming through stained glass which was nice. But they were also without air conditioning in the clammy humidity, which was not so nice. Hardly anybody came to mass. Most could not get out. A few exhausted souls showed up to say thanks to God for sparing them.

Every time something like this happens, it brings out the best in us.

Neighbors rediscover each other. People share.

People also pray more.

Hurricane Irene was our second disaster in a week. Just five days before, we were shaken by an earthquake. The epicenter was 100 miles away in Virginia, but it was still about a 3.5 on the Richter scale by the time it got to us. We all ran outside, giddy and panicky. My secretary was outside smoking. I told her that smoking may have saved her life.

No real damage from the earth quake near us, just a few cracks.

With a Hurricane and earth quake in one week, we were all in the mind of our mortality. We were reminded that ultimately we are helpless before the forces of nature.

But we were also in the mind of faith.

We were reminded that Lord, who calmed the seas and quieted the wind, can still calm our hearts.  So hear us Oh Lord and take away Irene and her trail of destruction.