El Morya's Garden
Celebrating the Sangha and the Can-Do Spirit!
A chronicle by Judith Mestre
During the long Labor Day weekend (September 2-4, 2017), we were bestowed with multiple blessings in Miami through a Summit University seminar that was presented to us by Reverends Kenneth and Bonita Frazier. And I avail myself of the adjective, “multiple,” because those of us who participated while offering the vehicles of our four lower bodies as chalices of the Light of Divine Love and of the Divine Mother, could not have imagined the life-threatening danger approaching the Southeast.
Irma, a category 5 hurricane, had its origin in the African coastline, moved through the Atlantic Ocean fueling itself with the warm Caribbean waters and swelling up in diameter, mile after mile.
Suddenly, that instinct that takes a hold of us lightbearers when faced with such a tremendous threat came upon us and we gathered a few of us for a prayer vigil at the Miami Study Group. Fifty-four hours. Four people. We would take turns, night and day, taking naps on the sofa and almost cracking the walls with the thundering and roaring sound of our voices crying out to Heaven for protection, Divine Direction, Divine Vision, and the reversing of the tide of the Dantean or bizarre energy that advanced slowly but surely. Lots of violet flame and, for the last five hours, a Rosary to our Mother Kuan Yin imploring her for mercy; we asked her to surround this monster that was lurking upon us, with her Presence.
Tired and aware of the imminent danger, we sealed the vigil at 6 am on Friday, September 8, and each one went to their chosen locations. My family and I went directly to a shelter at South Miami Senior School, on Miller Rd. and 67th Ave., where they still had some availability. It wasn’t that far from our home. Later on we passed by the house to pick up the essentials of blankets, clothes, and food for a few days.
Some of the people we knew, and some others, fled Florida to the North, forming long lines to Orlando and to Florida’s boarders – Georgia and South Carolina. The hotels in the city were full of residents seeking a safe haven. There were no rooms available. Long lines also formed at gas stations until they ran out of gasoline.
The shelter where we stayed had 700 people who arrived from all age brackets, from babies to elders from different social classes. We set up our mattress in a corner of a classroom (the name on the door was Ms. Ortega). We were 15 sleeping in this new “room”. The air conditioner was too cold so we had to bring blankets.
Security personnel from the school and two police officers oversaw volunteers from the Red Cross and others. They kept vigil for the peaceful coexistence of so many people who were sleeping in the hallways, in the classrooms, in three floors, and the anxious smokers would secretly light up their cigarettes in the restrooms at the expense of the guards’ scolding.
The people would gather during the day to chat in the staircases that gave access to the higher floors where big windows with thick impact glasses allowed us to see the show performed by the hurricane’s rain and wind that beat unmercifully against trees and swirled between the walls of the buildings facing us. An evacuee from the Keys was sitting down with a vividly colored parrot perched on his shoulder. He told us that he wanted to give it up because he had lost his home.
A few people had Internet connection and they would convey the news to us regarding the hurricane. On Saturday, it was still over the Island of Cuba and it was moving very slowly; almost not moving at all. Bad news for Cuba, as that meant more wreckage on land.
There was an evacuation order in place for the coastline (from the Keys to Palm Beach, going through Palmetto Bay, Pinecrest, Miami Beach and Ft. Lauderdale). The hurricane’s diameter was larger than the State of Florida, therefore, no part would be excluded. The word was spreading that from US1 toward the East, all would be flooded.
Meanwhile, the shelter lost its power – just as most households in Miami and surrounding areas – and the generator started automatically to fulfill the energy needs. In a few hours the generator stopped. It was damaged due to an overload. We were left with no power at 4:30am on Sunday so all the air conditioners were stopped as well. We stayed in bed for about two more hours. I got up to go to the restroom, and I could smell urine in the hallway. Some people had gotten up and were chattering, nervous, looking for some fresh air. The smokers were uneasy as no one could leave. The security guards would scold those who would hide in the restrooms to smoke. The air was tense.
Someone said they were fixing the generator. When it was turned back on, they lowered the current load of the air conditioners and directed more power to the kitchen and refrigerators. They served breakfast, lunch, and dinner to 700 people. The food was not of good quality, but, as I explained to my daughter, it was not a restaurant. Thank God I took with me some cooked rice and azuki beans for the first day, buckwheat crepes and rice cakes, tahini, nachos, and almonds, enough for many days, in addition to water, apple juice, and almond and rice milk. More than enough for an emergency situation. The cold in the classroom where we slept kept everything in good condition. The first night we slept with a dormouse, after two nights of no sleep. The following two nights not so much.
Sunday morning we went up to the third floor where the restroom was cleaner and we saw the man from the Keys without the parrot. My daughter asked him and he said that it had died from a seizure, probably from stress. A former military person who was lodging in our classroom said that a woman had given birth somewhere in the building aided by the paramedics.
Soon we heard that the hurricane was finally moving Northwest toward Ft. Myers and Naples up to Tampa. That meant that it skirted South Florida, went through the Keys and turned West toward the North. It had weakened to category 3.
The “miracle” happened. God answered our prayers. Of course, the news was not good for the West Coast and the Panhandle, but the truth is that greater damage was averted in Miami and in the urban perimeter of the adjacent neighborhoods, where the population is about six million.
The Wall Street Journal dated Tuesday, September 12, reads under the article entitled, “Why Irma’s Florida strike wasn’t as bad as feared,” that it was due to three reasons. The first, “Irma ran low on fuel. If Irma had taken a track just 10 to 15 miles north, the storm would have likely missed Cuba and continued to intensify,” said Mr. Lackmann, a climatology professor at North Carolina State University.
Second, “Then, the winds changed. They had been relatively calm and consistent around the storm until Irma approached the Florida Keys, when it encountered a different weather system. The winds at the upper level of the atmosphere where planes fly were blowing much stronger south to north than the winds at the surface of the Earth, said Brian Tang, a hurricane expert at the State University of New York at Albany. The upper-level winds sheared off part of the top of the storm,” confirms the newspaper.
“The third reason was the weakening of the eyewall, the whirling vortex of intense wind and heavy rain at the center of the hurricane. The rainstorms encircling the eye moved less quickly and evenly – in part because of the loss of fuel and the storm getting knocked off-kilter by wind shear. By late Sunday, satellite images of Irma looked like a wheel with its bottom broken, meteorologists said.”
Life in Miami went back to normal in a few days. The most important hubs of urban life, such as supermarkets, libraries, restaurants and gas stations, were quickly restored. Schools remained closed until Monday 18th. The debris, mostly trees and branches that were ripped off by the fury of the winds, were piled up in the streets of the entire city. It is a sad spectacle, tragic. Most of the homes and human lives, however, did not suffer the same fate in this great city. It is an enormous blessing.
Someone mentioned to me that this phenomenon is cyclical and it repeats every so many years. Twenty-five years have gone by since the last monster, Andrew, which devastated Miami and whose dramatic memory prompted the stampede toward the North these last few days.
In this day and age, global warming is an undeniable fact. At the shelter, one of the evacuees from the Keys, who lived there for many years and who is an experienced swimmer, told us that the water in the Gulf was “really hot”. The experts agree that this phenomenon is precisely what may generate and fuel more hurricanes like this one.
I have also read an interesting article on what really caused the hurricane, which claims that it is none other than the artificial manipulation by human hands. And there are those who surmise that the hurricane was deviated thanks to sophisticated technology. Who knows?
I look around and see branches, logs, and dried leaves all over. The sun shines and keeps on warming up.
Life in this city has become artificial, I think. Everyone depends on air conditioner and big cars that devour liters and liters of gas and keep their owners tied to comfortable seats hour after hour every day. Hundreds of thousands of people rush to empty the shelves in the supermarkets to fill their pantries; food they will be throwing in the garbage after the first tentacles of a hurricane take away the power in their homes. So much wasted! Millions of animals are put to sleep every year to fill the void of a life apparently free, but in reality enslaved. How ironic!
And life goes on. Those who left are coming back home.
I look up. Part of my neighbor’s roof is lifted up.
I lower my head, close my eyes and give thanks to God once more for His infinite Mercy; and I ask Him to awaken the souls of many people before another monster and its tentacles challenge us again.
We will be there, few or many, sword in hand, fearless, crying out to Heaven again for peace and mercy.