The next day it was downgraded to a tropical depression as it crossed North Carolina with sustained winds of 45 mph. Gaston dumped up to 6 inches of rain on NC.
As the storm tracked northward into Virginia, it strengthened and my town became the epicenter.
The Richmond area received close to 12 inches of rain that afternoon.
We drove in it.
We had nothing left in the kitchen for dinner, and my wife’s car was ready for pickup at the service station.
I told my wife, “It’s just rain. Let’s go get something to eat.”
So we loaded the kids into their car seats to head down Route 1.
The rain got harder, but I kept going.
I figured I got this far.
I was young and I was careless.
I certainly wasn’t responsible.
It became the most terrifying drive of my life.
Flash floods crossed the road like I’ve never seen before.
We reached our first destination (Chick Fil-A) which was wiser than I was because it closed early.
We crossed the street to the service station with the brave service manager waiting inside.
He simply said, “I’ve never seen anything like this.”
I quickly picked up the keys and my wife and I heading back home (now in separate cars) into the perfect storm.
By the grace of God, I reconciled, we made it back home safely.
To this day, I am still haunted by the sound of waves splashing against the vehicle.
My wife cried the whole way home, rightfully concerned for the safety of our young children.
I’ll never forget what she said when we pulled into the garage, “We could have had waffles for dinner.”
The next day we heard the news.
9 people in our town had been killed.
2,000 parked vehicles were flooded-out.
Some streets in Central Virginia collapsed (the picture above was taken in Richmond the day after the Gaston flash floods).
Total damage was estimated at $130 million.
My message to you.
Images of natural forces like Hurricane Sandy here in 2012 or the Tsunami that struck Japan in 2011 are absolutely haunting and brought back these personal memories.
I cannot begin to comprehend the magnitude of theses catastrophes, and it is not fair for me to compare the damage of Gaston to these emergencies.
My message today isn’t to tell you not to take risks.
I strongly encourage you to act boldly toward your dreams.
My message to you is simply this:
If the risk far outweighs the reward (as it did in my case in 2004), don’t do it.
God may have a plan for your life, but we are expected to make wise choices to stay on the right path.
Or in my case, the road. Literally.
I don’t know why specific natural disasters happen on earth.
I do know we live in a very fragile and broken world.
“Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.”
If you’re about to do something really careless, remember the waffles.
What is your experience or advice?
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