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A Collection of Grace — Life After Hurricane Katrina

One of my newsletter readers, Stephanie C. Taranto, Social Entrepreneur, in North Carolina, shared with me her inspiring story of how her family dealt with Hurricane Katrina.  I asked her if I could reprint it here, as so many of the stories in the media are filled with devastation and horror of what people endured, and this one has a wonderfully happy ending. Here’s Stephanie’s story:

First Entry Dated Tuesday, August 30, 2005 (Day after storm)
Hello everyone,
I thank all of you, sincerely, for thinking of me and my loved ones during this time. Your calls and emails are most thoughtful. The reality of the devastation and impact of such on the city I grew up in and in the lives of those I love is increasingly becoming surreal. My father evacuated at the last minute to the panhandle area of Florida where he is waiting to hear from either survivors or the headline news reports whether or not he still has a home and community to return to. He lived and worked on the water edge and it is confirmed that at the least his company is wiped out, obliterated. I am so very thankful he chose to leave and is safe.

I have several extended family members, life-long friends and my sister’s father (my step-dad) who stayed behind in the direct path of the storm and I still have not heard of their safety or property conditions. Right now it is a waiting game, and soon to follow I will be traveling to the area to assist with efforts for recovery and most likely relocating my father.

It’s so strange to what lengths I have gone to separate myself from Biloxi. Yet, in a day’s time I remember deep connections to what good it gave to me growing up, and this awareness instantly turns my heart and frees me to be present to the needs of my family and friends–amazing grace.

Latest Entry : Dated Thursday, September 8, 2005

Hurricane Katrina was a mark on my father’s journey, but not because it was devastating or a thief, but because it was an occasion for my father to experience amazing grace–an unearned gift of compassion from community, family and Sacred Mystery.   

The night before my father left his home in a rush he held a box of love in his hands.  His mother and father died in his adolescence and all he had left was this old box of pictures of his mom and dad.  He quickened himself with the thought that he would only be gone for a couple of days, that this old storm was just like all the others, this day would be like any other and he would have tomorrow.  So he stacked the box on top of a shelf and shut his front door to leave the area. 

On Friday of this last week, 4 days after Hurricane Katrina trampled over land, he received a call from my Uncle Chris.  Uncle Chris stuttered to tell my father, "Steve (that’s my dad’s name), you lost it all!  There isn’t anything left–your house is gutted, your community is leveled, your neighbors are dead and your boat is a mile down the street!" 

My father shocked; he was sure he had been spared.  Then his thoughts targeted without mercy the moment that he quickened himself in his house to toss that box of pictures up on that shelf.  His heart broke, not because he had nothing to call his own anymore, but he had abandoned what he now knew was the only item that meant peace for him. 

Needless to say the mood in my house this weekend was heavy.  On Monday afternoon, the phone rang and again it was my Uncle Chris.  "Jesus…Steve, you are never going to believe this!  We made it over to your house, like you asked, to rummage through the mess. The only thing we found standing was a closet shelf.  We looked on the top of it and there it was…your box with the pictures…without a drop of water on ‘em!" 

I saw my father laugh again and this time his tears, my tears, were of peace.

Turning points, at times, come in a moment of Sacred Mystery, and other times they come from experiencing compassion of community and family.  For my father, he was blessed to have received it all from a storm that supposedly blew it all away.  Thank you for being a part of him having it all!

We’re talking about where he will live now, what he will do for work–new beginnings. Conversations that are all possible because of grace–your compassion and Sacred Mystery.   

p.s. As a follow-up about my sister’s father (my step-dad), he has been found ALIVE and WELL just today, Thursday, September 8th.  All of my other family and friends have been located and are safe. 

After Stephanie and I corresponded by email, she had a brilliant idea about compiling a collection of stories from Hurricane Katrina.  So, to help her in this effort, here’s her request:
If you are interested in receiving the complete collection, please email me with your request and the email address of choice for delivery.  If you have a story to contribute to the collection, please email me or call me at the office number listed below.
Stephanie C. Taranto
919-845-4444 office

About the Author Donna Gunter

Best-selling author Donna Gunter works with successful business owners who are experts in their fields and established in their industry and are seeking a way to stand out from their competitors. Using her Ideal Clients on Autopilot System©, she helps them determine the exact strategies to generate more qualified leads and better-paying clients with automated systems. This proven system makes all their marketing easier and more effective and they find themselves positioned as the only choice for their clients.

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