Another day brings hope, strength

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Hurricane Ivan took his place with Opal after both wreaked broad havoc on Butler Countians' lives and property. When he smashed through our area last Thursday, he left all of our cities and county without electricity and many homes destroyed.

As I drove around Thursday afternoon, making my way around downed trees and saying a prayer with each power line my car brushed, I could not help but ache for my home town.

Never in my lifetime have I seen so many people in Greenville share a common tragedy as I did with Ivan.

Email newsletter signup

This storm made our infamous brush with Opal look like a walk in the park.

As I walked towards Country Club Drive I could only think of Millie McDonald and prayed that she was safe. I prayed for the Jernigans and others that day.

After the extremely long day of high winds and pouring rains and the sounds of trees snapping, I collapsed into bed that night.

I don't recall dreaming much.

What I do recall was waking up with bright sunlight hitting me in the face.

After the dull grays and the dark, power outage-aided night, it was very refreshing.

In the light of the new day, we were told of the patience we would need in dealing with the aftermath and I began to talk to people who lost everything.

These horror stories came to me and I took them all in. We know that the days ahead will be quite daunting.

We know we will struggle to get back to normal.

Many, as of this writing, remain without electricity.

We are an agriculture based area and many families rely on their gardens to supplement their food.

They've lost everything they put away this summer.

But that is a minor concern when we realize how lucky we are that no one died in this storm.

When I looked at some of the houses and how badly damaged they were, I was surprised and thankful that no one did die.

Another thing that has taken me by surprise is that I've heard a great deal of stories this week about neighbors and families getting together and instead of waiting on some hard-to-find agency for help, they've helped themselves.

For me, five days without electricity reminded me what a joy it is to have total peace and quiet.

Or how tiresome emails can be or how I find myself spending way too much time looking for nothing in particular on the Internet.

Now, we have passed the one week mark and for some the mood is not all cheery.

Those who first enjoyed the camping-out spirit are ready to watch television, listen to a fully electrified radio or play on the Internet.

Our hardest hit areas may feel like nothing will be normal again, but we should have hope no matter how bad things may seem.

Before you send me off a handwritten letter cursing me for my optimism, I offer you these words.

You should have hope, for you are still here and your existence is worth noting, no matter how bad things may seem now.

So, after several years of writing my column under the heading of "Doubting Thomas' World," I have decided to show my new sense of purpose with a new column title as you'll note next to my picture.

In the wee hours of Sept. 15, 2004, I made my peace with God and prayed for safety for my family, friends and Advocate family.

I prayed for safety for all.

Yes, it was stormy, the winds raged and the rain beat down on us.

But we're still here and on Friday, with the sun shining brightly, we learned it was truly another day.

Jay Thomas is managing editor of the Greenville Advocate and can be reached 334-383-9302, ext. 136 or via email at