Inspiration Report

valentines-day-2009474_1920Natural disasters usually make the news due to the devastation they leave behind. The greater the damage, the more people are aware of the event and the longer the memories remain. The media is dominated by images of rising floodwaters or satellite visuals of hundreds of acres of destroyed forest. People across the country and across the world watch as events unfold with a morbid fascination. Those who lost their homes and livelihoods to the disasters are photographed with tearstained faces, but sometimes, something good rises from the ashes of utter destruction.

Ishu and Laura Rao of Goleta, California were one of the many couples who lost almost everything to the Holiday Fire that blasted its way through Santa Barbara County and leveled more than 100 acres before the fire department could get the wildfire under control. When the two were allowed to return to their home, it was a somber sight. The house had been ruined, and Laura’s wedding ring, which had been left behind when the couple fled, had likely been destroyed as well. The couple found the damaged ring, and Ishu surprised everyone. Holding the badly damaged ring, Ishu dropped to one knee and proposed to Laura a second time.

The Raos are not the only people to have found happiness in the midst of disaster. When Hurricane Harvey drowned Houston, Greg and Andrea Smith found themselves trapped in their home by two to three feet of water that accumulated literally overnight. To make matters worse, Andrea was pregnant after two miscarriages and had gone into labor. Greg called 911 while his mother called the Coast Guard. Neither of them were able to get through. Trapped and desperate, the couple braced themselves for a home birth. As they and their neighbors prepared to deliver the baby, a large dump truck pulled up outside the Smith’s home. The truck, with a high enough clearance to slog through the floodwaters, was there for Andrea. The Smiths’ neighbors formed a human chain to get Andrea to the truck, and the Smiths made it to the hospital where Andrea gave birth to a baby girl. The infant was largely healthy, but needed to spend some time in the intensive care unit. She has since recovered, and the Smiths named her Adrielle. “It means she belongs to God,” said Greg. “Everything about this pregnancy…is God’s will.”

The horrible 2017 hurricane season was the backdrop for another special day that could have ended in disaster. A Jewish couple from Brooklyn had the unfortunate luck to have Hurricane Irene barrel down on them on the day they were supposed to tie the knot. As guests, friends and family alike started abandoning ship and planning their escape from the city, the couple’s rabbi agreed to break Jewish law and marry the couple on Saturday morning rather than that evening after the end of Shabbat. The ceremony itself was more or less canceled, but the bride stated that she “knew [they] made the right decision to go through with [the wedding,] because [she] was never more in love with [her] husband than [she] was at that moment.” The love between the couple was strong enough that the bride “totally forgot that the end of the world was gearing up outside.”

As a general rule, natural disasters either bring out the best or the worst in humanity. There are always stories of heroes and heroines in the aftermath, but there is something especially inspiring about tales of people who refused to let disaster get in the way of their hearts. Love really does conquer all.

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