Hurricane Irene: Picking Up The Pieces


Ranger Scott Pearson with a downed Tree



Weekend plans ruined.  Days without electric power.  Trees down everywhere.  Sadly, a relative was killed.  These are just some of the results of Hurricane Irene’s visit.  Even though it wasn’t the category three monster that we all feared, it was more than enough to make us realize how fragile our day-to-day living can be.

Park Manager & Chief Ranger making plans

Plans were made and events were advertised for fun-filled Saturdays at York River State Park from the end of August up to the first of October.  I was especially looking forward to Labor Day weekend with a kid’s fishing tourney and fossil hike.  Our observance of Estuaries Day was to be on the 17th of September as not to conflict with the Virginia State and James City County Fairs.  But, without electric power to run our toilet pumps, we had to cancel.  Even if service is restored by the 10th, there are still other factors which will delay any major events at the park until October.  We did a great job of clearing trees and debris from the trails and parking lots.  Special thanks to Ben and Brett from Sky Meadows State Park for coming down to help us.

Homecoming Sunday and Revival Services at Trinity Baptist Church also had to be postponed.  This is a very special time of worship in southern black churches where friends and family return to the communities that reared them for spirit filled preaching and singing.  Of course, food is a major draw in these events (and we got some sisters who can “throw down” making deserts).  Instead of waiting to reschedule the services, I took time to revive myself.  I confess, my prayer life was slacking a bit from my normal morning discipline of stretching, reading, and writing my personal journal of faith.  While I am certain the men and woman of God that were to preach for us could have stirred up something in me to get back on track, I am glad the Holy Spirit cannot be hindered by high winds or downed trees or power lines.

The late Pernell and Jackie

I will miss my cousin Pernell Washington.  He and his wife Jackie were inseparable and were fun to talk to at the family reunions, church functions, and just bumping into one another at the store.  He was trying to help someone remove a tree from the road around midnight when Irene struck.  Authorities couldn’t get to him until the next day because of the wind and rain.  One of our rangers, Maurice Suggs, is a stickler when it comes to safety.  After reading what happened to Pernell, I didn’t mind wearing a helmet as I assisted with tree removal.

We tend to expect things to go well for us without interruptions of our conveniences.  But, Irene (and the earthquake that started in Mineral, VA) ought to remind us that our existence can come to an end at any time.  This is not to say we shouldn’t have goals and try to achieve them.  But, we should calmly assemble proper material and spiritual back-up in life when things go awry.  Take advantage of rest time, communicate with those around you, meet and work with a neighbor; do these things take electric current?  No, just a willingness to store and maintain them as one would a generator or propane grill.  Use them from time to time before harsh weather strikes to build familiarity and skill.


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