Ettie Newlands

Battling the unknown, I admit to being very frightened before, during and after Hurricane Florence.

Compared to the loss of their homes - and for some, their lives - my demons proved to be insignificant.

But at the time, the warnings about our home potentially flooding were like. . .well, anyone who’s been through it knows what they were like.

After days and nights of enduring my “what ifs,” my husband went to the nearest fire department and brought two FEMA guys back to the house.

They turned out to be Harris Henbest, District Chief, Port Everglades Command, from Broward County, Florida, and Scott K. Dean, Assistant Fire Chief with the Department of Fire-Rescue in Miami, Florida.

The first day they came to our house in the Little Lamb community, they said they were fairly certain our neighborhood would escape flood waters.

But they also assured us that should the unforeseen happen, they’d personally come get us, our to-go bags, our two dogs, and our neighbors, not necessarily in that order.

Both married men, they may know what it’s like having a wife with bouts of extreme panic, punctuated by random attacks of anxiety.

They reassured me we were probably going to stay dry, and that would have been sufficient, since there were hundreds of homes and thousands of people in the area these men were responsible for.

But they came back the next day also, again reassuring us that our neighborhood in general, and our home in particular, were safe.

They chatted, made small talk, talked to my husband about his work, and made the otherwise bizarre day seem “normal.”

They came back a third day as well, visiting us and others in the area, to reiterate that neither our property nor our lives were any longer in jeopardy.

The fourth day they came to say they were being reassigned to a more vulnerable area, and to wish us well.

The combination of their professionalism and their humanity put us all at ease.

I don’t know what the job descriptions of FEMA guys are, but I’m sure these men went beyond what they had to do, bringing comfort and reassurance where there had been very little.

The newscasts and flood maps and weather alerts didn’t help. These guys did.

I couldn’t see their wings, but I know they were there.


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