Dinkel Island boaters began bringing their crafts farther up into Crabber’s Creek as an early October Nor’easter approached. Junior Hawkins had a sheltered area behind Pappy’s Place, but it was small. A few watermen got in there as soon as the storm warnings were posted. Everybody else left their slips on Tranquility Bay, made their way around the island, under the drawbridge and up into the small tributaries that lined the creek.
Water was rising quickly. High tides that were already higher than usual, began to look like they could wash over the piers and into the yards of homes in Crabber’s Creek Estates. Rain squalls moved through in bands, with heavy wind gusts. Ed was helping Stan get his Grady White tucked in behind Bob Drew’s place. “You sure this is gonna be a safe enough place?” asked Ed. “If the water’s already this high, won’t a tidal surge wash it ashore?”
Stan looked exasperated. “Yeah, that could happen. That’s the way it is with these storms. So far I’ve never had a problem, but you’re right about this storm. It promises to be almost as bad as a hurricane.”
The two men finished mooring the boat as securely as they could, then went up the planked walkway to the house. The wind was beginning to whip up the water where it pooled in the marsh grass. They were soaked and chilled by the time they reached the back deck. Cheryl met them at the door.
“You guys look like two scarecrows that got soaked.”
“Yeah, this storm looks bad. Maybe you and Bob ought’a come up in town and stay with Fanny and me.”
Molly looked concerned. Bob was at the drug store, but had called to say he was closing early. He had sounded worried on the phone. “Thanks for the invite, Stan. Bob’ll be here soon and I’ll see what he thinks. I always get nervous when there’s a bad storm.”
“We’re on slightly higher ground,” said Stan, “but if it gets really bad we could all go up into the apartment over the gallery until its over.”
“I hear a lot of concern about flooding,” said Ed. “We thought about leavin, but where would you go that you would be sure you could get through?”
“I hear that,” said Stan. “I really think we’ll all be safe, and you and Molly are up on that higher section in the subdivision. We’ll just take all the precautions we can, and trust the Lord.”
“Amen. God’s always bigger than the storms we go through. Yeah, we’re on higher ground, and I feel safe for us. It’s y’all I’m concerned about.”
“Fanny and I have been through many a storm. We’ll make it. I’m not so sure about the Lillie Plume, though. I don’t wanna lose that boat, but if she goes, well, maybe its time to change my perspective on some things.”
Ed’s cell phone rang. “Hey, hon, are you all right?…Yeah, we got the boat up in the creek. Just leavin’….Good. Glad you’re closin’ up. Love ya.” He handed the phone to Stan. “Fanny wants to talk to you.” Stan talked with Fanny a few moments, then they left. They met Bob in the driveway and he agreed that they needed to leave Crabber’s Creek Estates. “We’ll be up there quick as possible.”
Ed drove behind Stan to the gallery where Molly seemed worried. “Are you sure we’re high enough to avoid flooding? I’ve been through some bad storms, but this looks worse than any I’ve seen.”
Ed drew her close. “I don’t know. All we can do is trust God with this.” He held her tightly.
“Don’t y’all even think about stayin’ over there. Just go get yer things and come on back to our house. Lord knows we’ve got the room. Okay?”
Molly and Ed exchanged looks. “Okay,” said Molly. “Be there soon.”
The storm continued to build up, not a rapid surge that would move through quickly, but a slow, deliberate, vicious kind of event. That night after supper, the lights went out. Stan turned on the emergency generator which kept them safe and allowed enough light to function–and kept the food safe in the refrigerator and freezer. They gathered in the dining room, which was away from the windows and more toward the leeward side of the house.
“Anybody for a game of Hand and Foot?” They all agreed and soon began to ignore the rain pounding against the windows, and wind whistling in the weatherstripping. By the end of the game, they were all tired. “Before we turn in, let’s have a prayer circle,” said Ed. They all gathered and felt the assurance of God’s presence. Soon they settled into a peaceful night’s sleep in spite of the storm outside.
In the morning the storm continued to rage. It went on all day, finally showing signs of growing weaker by evening. The next day they all gathered at Bob and Cheryl’s place. The tidal surge had brought water all the way to the deck, but the house was not damaged. There were some loblolly pines down, and lots of debris in the yard.
Down at the creek they found Bob’s pier partially destroyed. Stan’s boat had broken free on the stern lines, but the bow ropes had held it. The boat was listing, and they found some damage, but it would live to sail again. In fact, all three couples joined in a celebratory prayer and sang praises right on the spot. “It could be a lot worse,” said Molly. “Thanks be to God!”