Chasity and her family are at her next door neighbor’s house watching the same CNN news report about Hurricane Heidi that Asia and her family are watching. “This category five hurricane is being predicted
to be one of the strongest storms to ever hit the east coast”, says the meteorologist. He continues, “once again, if you live on the shores and the surrounding areas, you are being asked to evacuate. Everyone is also being asked to remain calm, do not panic, and follow all emergency procedures.”. The report is saying New Jersey and New York City are in its direct path, and are going to be hit the hardest, so everyone must take specific measures of safety for better survival outcomes. People have been scrambling to get as many materials and supplies as possible before the storm arrives. It is a common practice now, more than ever before, to stock up on as many necessities as possible. Chasity’s husband, Harry is one of those people. He is now back at work because his job furlough ended. He calls his wife to see how she and the kids are doing. When he does, she asks him to pick up some things for their next door neighbor too, because she’s a single mom and she’s home alone, except for Chasity and the kids. He’ll see what he can do, and they are welcome to whatever he gets. Chasity tells this to her neighbor, Gladys, which helps to relieve some of her fears. Chasity then says, “come let’s gather in a circle and take each other’s hands”. They all do so and she says a prayer, “father, we praise your name and ask you for
the strength, your mercy, and grace, to help see us through this new threat”. Everyone then says, “Amen”.
Chasity is very concerned about the Hurricane and relays this to Harry when he gets home. He splits up the food and supplies and brings half of them to Gladys’ apartment. Gladys hugs and thanks him for his generosity and kindness. He hugs her back and says, “it’s nothing Gladys, you know Chasity and I will do whatever we can for you and your kids”. They exchange a few more pleasantries and then he goes back across the hall to his own apartment. Chasity is putting away their food and supplies as she heats up dinner. She starts talking fast, “Harry, I’m very worried about being here in the city. They’re predicting this to be one of the worst hurricanes on record.” “I know Chas, I’m concerned too, but what else can we do except to ride it out like everyone else?” “I knew I should have continued trying to find out where in the mountains my friend, Asia moved to”. Chasity says this continuing to talk nonstop and Harry knows his wife does this when she is extremely nervous. Their children are sitting at the table quietly waiting for dinner as they listen to their parents. They also know their mother is worried for they can feel her nervous vibes, and this makes them worried too.
Harry sighs and his chest and belly shake as he says, “Chas, we can only do what we can do”. And Chasity replies, “well, Harry, we’re going to have to do something soon because I feel time is running out for all of us”. “I know Chas, I know, and we are going to get back on the ball trying to get out of the city as soon as possible, but there are still things that need to be done before we pack up and go”. Chasity just looks at her husband, and begins making their plates of food. She’s feeling very concerned because she knows what’s going to happen. The Lord has been warning, not just her, but hundreds of thousands of people about what’s to come and telling them to get ready. These are her thoughts as she sits down to pray and then eat. They don’t say much until they’ve all finished eating, and Chasity is the one who breaks the silence, by saying, “I need all of you to listen to me”. Her husband,
son, and daughter, look directly at her. She continues in her kind of preaching way, “we, all of us, this family, the Cromwells, knows and believes that the Lord is going to take care of us. And that we must rely on the faith, grace, and mercy which he bestows upon us to survive in these times. But he also says he helps those who help themselves and I think that means that we have to do as much as we can for ourselves, guided by him.”
At first, they all just sit there quietly, not saying a word. And Chasity thinks they need a little time to absorb what she said. And she is right for Harry then says, “okay Chas, let’s pack up tomorrow and leave the city”. He stops talking in midsentence realizing they can’t leave tomorrow because the hurricane is hitting then. He feels so stupid responding the way he did but he doesn’t know what else to say at the moment. He also knows that his wife has been trying to get them to move, and get out of the city for over a year now, and he hasn’t done anything towards that want except to give excuses. She hasn’t either, well, he thinks, she did mention her good friend in the mountains, but that’s all Chasity did, was mention it, nothing more. He can’t recall her doing anything to find out where her friend lives, so he left the subject alone and went on with dealing with everything else. There’s been a lot to deal with, and now there’s this hurricane. It’s one thing right after another. He relays all this to his wife as their children sit and listen. He continues, “Chas, you know I’m a God fearing man and I agree with all you’ve said and say, and I’m sorry I haven’t acted sooner on our move. Let’s pray that the Lord gives us a chance to rectify our misgivings, especially mine”. With a big sigh, Chasity replies, “that’s all we can do now”. She pushes her chair back from the table putting all her weight on it, and scraping the floor as she does, which makes a high pitch scratching sound, and this ends the discussion. They all get ready for bed after saying a family pray together.
Hurricane Heidi hits with a tremendous force. It slams into the northeast with a vengeance with winds recorded up to one hundred sixty-eight miles per hour. She hits just as predicted, a category five
hurricane. The winds began even sooner than expected, hitting the eastern coastal shore at six ten a. m. Then the heavy rains started. Most people followed the warnings and evacuated their homes and businesses the night before like those living in the Rockaways, some parts of Long Island, the New Jersey shore, and all coastal regions close to that area. But there are always those who think they can ride a hurricane out and do not leave. They are extremely sorry that they don’t listen for this storm brings sustained wind gusts up to one hundred eighty miles per hour. They are producing a storm surge of thirty-five foot waves which is decimating and flooding every structure in its path. People are already caught in flood waters over five feet, and the storm has only begun. They are trapped for the water is now reaching to the second and third stories of buildings. Officials were unaware that lower Manhattan would flood the way it is. Water is gushing into the subway system causing shortages in the electrical wires, stopping all trains from running. Bus service has already been suspended, along with the closing of all bridges and tunnels. Many low lying roads are also closed stranding anyone who is trying to flee the hurricane.
The extreme wind gusts are causing extensive damage. Destruction is evident everywhere. The intrusion of the storm surge is traveling as far as two and a half miles inland. Individual tornadoes are forming within this devastating hurricane. Trees are being uprooted, buildings are being knocked over, and vehicles are flipping and flying around like toys. Thousands of roofs are being blown off and debris is being flung all over. Objects are breaking and crashing through windows. And one window this happens to is the Cromwell’s. A tree that is several yards away from Chasity’s building comes crashing into her living room window. Her daughter, Caitlin screams when she hears the crash, and her son, Jacob rushes into the room. Chasity and Harry are stunned when they reach the broken window that has a large tree limb in it. Rain is now pouring into their apartment, wetting up their living room, hallway and kitchen. Harry is excitedly and loudly talking telling his family to stay away from the window and broken glass. “Stay
back!”, he yells, flaying his large arms back and forth. And Chasity and the children listen as they stand there in shock.
They all back up further away from the broken window as rain gushes into their house. Harry gets a broom and begins trying to sweep up the glass off the floor so he can get to the window. Chasity backs her children up further down the hall away from the danger, grabs a mop and begins mopping up rain water from off the floor. While being soaked with water, she and her husband manage to clean up enough, so Harry then pushes the tree limb out the window and they hear it hit the ground with a thud. They both stand there, looking at each other dazed, huffing and puffing, and trying to catch their breath. Caitlin and Jacob stand far enough away from harm, wide eyed and afraid. Harry then goes into the bathroom, rips the plastic shower curtain off its hooks, drags it into the living room and Chasity helps him put it up at the window to stop the rain from coming in. Gladys, their neighbor across the hall must have heard the crash for she knocks at their door and Jacob lets her in. She shockingly asks, “Chasity, are y’all alright?” Chasity exasperatingly replies back, “now we are. A tree limb fell into our window and broke it.” Gladys gasps loudly putting her hand over her heart and says, “Oh my goodness! How did that happen?” And both Chasity and Harry also want to know the answer to that very same question. For nothing like this ever happened before and Chasity has lived in this same apartment almost her whole life.
Gladys says, “why don’t you guys come over to my apartment and we’ll ride out the rest of the storm together”. “No, that’s alright, Gladys, we’re fine now. I think Harry and I got things under control now”, Chasity responds. And Harry butts in with, “yeah, Chas is right. Everything’s okay now. If you and your kids need anything, don’t hesitate, we’re right here”. Gladys, says, “okay, I’d better get back to them. I heard the crash and came to see if you guys are alright. I’m glad to see you are”. “Thanks”, Chasity replies and they hug and say goodbye. Gladys leaves and Chasity goes back to mopping the floor for there’s still water on it. Harry plops down in a chair and puts his head
down on one of his arms on the table. Caitlin goes over to her father, puts her arms as much as she can around his waist, hugs him and says, “it’s gonna be alright dad, God has saved us and he will continue to do so”. “Amen”, shouts Chasity as she looks at her smart and faithful daughter. Harry gets up and says, “I’ll get breakfast started”. And no sooner that he does this, all the electricity goes out. Chasity puts down the mop and says, “oh no, now what? Lord how much more is there?” And she once again hears her neighbor, Gladys knock on her door, but this time with her children.
Chasity goes to her door, looks through the peephole and seeing Gladys, opens up the door. “Gladys, you’re back, come on in”, she says as she lets her neighbor and her children in. She continues, “I guess we’ll ride out the storm together”. “Thank you Chasity, and God bless you”, Gladys worriedly responds ushering her children into the Cromwells’ tiny apartment. Chasity goes on, talking to Gladys’ children, “you two can go on with Caitlin and Jacob”. Jacob and Caitlin are in the small room they share together playing games on his phone. Gladys’ son, George who is seven, and her daughter, Janell who is six, frightened and timidly join their friends. Harry is in the kitchen trying to figure out what he can feed he and his family for breakfast that doesn’t require cooking because he knows they now turn off the gas too when the electricity goes out, when he hears Gladys’ knock and thinks okay, here we go. Now he has to find food for their neighbors too. Cereal and milk were part of the groceries he split with his and her family so he knows they can have that. He sees there’s only enough milk in the fridge for his family and says, “hey Gladys’ go get the milk and your food and bring it over here so we can see how we can all eat. Also, we’re gonna have to find a way to keep the food from spoiling ’till the electricity comes back on”. “Okay, I’ll go get the milk and cereal”. She goes and comes back with exactly enough milk and cereal for only her two kids. Chasity and Harry exchange glances, he remains quiet, but she says a pray under her breath, as he gets his family’s cereal and milk.