My day starts its descent into madness early November 14, 2022. I land at Orlando International Airport just after midnight. Mike picks me up and we begin the 35-minute drive
home to what I think will be rest and safety.
“The hurricane brought in some water,” he says nonchalantly, “I have planks up so we can walk to the bathroom and stuff.”
“You mean . . . we flooded?” I ask.
“Yeah,” he says, “I didn’t want to burden you while you were traveling.”
We live on a lake. Hurricane Ian had swelled it, and now I realize Hurricane Nicole overflowed it into our home. We pull into our driveway. The back yard is a glassy sea and my home a pond.
I’m dissociative, almost. Numb.
Tucked back in the living room, the only dry space left, I barely sleep that night. My emotionally-flooded brain keeps wandering toward, “I wish this never happened. Why, God?” It’s still warm in Florida, so I kick off my shoes and wade around the house looking for
salvageable items. Still numb.
The next day I tell Orange County Stormwater Management that I will soon die of either mold poisoning or electrocution. This seems to inspire them to re-route the water. My insurance company sends a mitigation team that, for a slim out-of-pocket $12,400, remove the damaged dry wall and doors, leaving our belongings under tarps and in boxes.
For the next three months life is camping. My life has been thrown into boxes such that even
finding a toothbrush requires a search-and-rescue mission. Our only water source is our bathtub and a hose outside. Level three water has left my floors filthy. I helplessly succumb to unfightable squalor.
My insurance company waits a month to tell me I have no flood insurance. FEMA hasn’t declared Nicole a disaster in Orange County so they won’t help. I despair. Then friends raise about $5000 of the $45,000 damage repair and I’m grateful. A friend from church, Scott Green, who builds mansions (Castleworksinc.com) swoops in and hires a team to repair, repaint, and reinstall cabinets and doors. Such kindness. My life is safe and dry again.
My house is nicer now than it was. But to be honest, this story does not have a happy earthly ending. The flood took my money and my time. 1 This whole thing has been one colossal burden for an already-burdened person. Living in a messed-up space with no doors and no running water brought out my grumpiest self—ask Mike. Temporally speaking, the flood was a massive net loss.
But spiritually, the flood was good for me. When I see it as an opportunity to learn more about God and myself, I see blessings scattered throughout. In the dark night of “Why, God?” and the aggravating months that followed, I learned something that no amount of dry, clean floors could have given me.
I often teach: “Reframe everything as growth. God hasn’t promised earthly prosperity or even safety. He has promised that our trials will bring about a deeper soul-connection to Him and the growth that flows from it.” Thank God for the Flood. It gave me a chance to practice what I preach.