When the rain started pouring in, it poured on me. I couldn’t even cry. I’d have been a brat to do so after surviving a vicious storm.
My neigbours were God-sent. Despite having a leaking roof and barely enough comfortable space themselves, they never for once told me to leave. That night, we all braved the rain pouring from the roof and the next morning, we went out to assess the carnage outside.
The roof to my landlord’s house was half way gone, their was no sign of the deck, his kitchen looked like a scene from those extreme hoarding shows. The wind had everything upside down. It was terrible.
The walkway to my apartment was completely covered with debris, I don’t think I went down there until two days after the storm.
When I eventually got there, the roof over the deck I initially thought would be sufficient protection was gone. There was no sign of it on the property. The mattress in my room was upside down and resting on the wall. The windows were all gone and so was part of the door.
It was a mess. And as bad as my experience may sound, others had way worse than mine. A walk through the neighbourhood was all the proof I needed to see. I was extremely blessed to not have the roof over my head fly away in the peak of the hurricane. Many people had to find cover during the storm. I can’t even begin to imagine all the thing that could have gone wrong.
God is faithful.
For more than one week after the storm, my neighbours kept me, I didn’t have to worry about shelter or food to eat. In fact, I had a bed to sleep in, something so many people couldn’t boast of and still can’t boast of. God blessed me with the best neighbours and landlord.
My life is a living testimony of God’s love, protection and provision.
Nearly two weeks after the storm, I was at the airport trying to get a one-way flight out of the Virgin Islands, a place I called home for approximately 12 years.
I was numb. All along, I thought the day I leave the Virgin Islands for good will be characterised by water works and lots of hugs from friends and co-workers who became family. I was so wrong.
I was numb. The place I was leaving wasn’t the Virgin Islands. It was almost a war zone: the level of decimation was nothing I could ever imagine of my beautiful Virgin Islands. There were UK marines/commandos walking around most streets with guns and so on. I couldn’t cry for leaving such a place. I wasn’t leaving a lush green hills and vegetation- white sand beaches- pristine waters-lovely people- amazing food Virgin Islands. I still feel numb. I haven’t left the Virgin Islands, I carried it with me in my heart. Perhaps some day I’ll cry for leaving it behind physically, but for now, I’m still numb.
I took a flight to Puerto Rico, where I was to spend a night then head out to California the next day. Puerto Rico was under Hurricane Warning as Hurricane Maria was expected to make landfall there. When I left the VI, it wasn’t a category 5 hurricane. By the time I arrived and a few hours later, I was in the hotel when I saw news that it was a Category 5 hurricane. I had diarrhea. I prayed during Hurricane Irma, but my prayers when I heard of Hurricane Maria hitting Puerto Rico was on another level. I prayed the storm would somehow find its way out into the seas, I prayed it didn’t cause flights to be cancelled- how will I face a Categrory 5 hurricane in a strange country all by myself. If flights weren’t cancelled and I made it out of Puerto Rico safely, I prayed for those I was leaving behind.
God showed up, I left PR before flights were cancelled. Made it to California where I spent well needed rest and family time with some family members. After two weeks, I repacked 12 years of my life into two suitcases and headed back to Nigeria.
Should I gist you about the Nigerian Husband and what we’ve been up to? Or wait until he’s paid brideprice? What a tough decision!
The storm has come and is long gone, but the damage it’s caused will live with me for the rest of my life. There’s no full recovery from having my life uprooted from my home of almost 12 years. There’s no full recovery from being abruptly taken away from people who became much more than friends, neighbours and co-workers.
I’ll never see September 6 the same.