Riding out Hurricane Michael’s 161-mph winds at home in Mexico Beach, Fla., Barbara and Bubba Harmon watched as the storm’s nine-foot tidal wave rushed toward them, pieces of broken lives, debris and garbage in its wake.
As the family prepared for the worst, in what seemed like only seconds, the rushing storm surge engulfed an empty lake on their property, diverting the dangerous wave away from their home and saving the family from the devastating onslaught.
When Bubba told his wife a few months earlier that he planned to drain the 20-acre lake on their property to increase its size and depth, Barbara greeted the news with skepticism, she said. But now she knows it was part of God’s plan.
“We believe that was God’s way of putting His protection over us,” she said.
And while their home and beloved community have not been immune from the horrific damage caused by the Category 5 hurricane, the couple have continually seen God at work for good in the lives of their neighbors and those who have responded in the storm’s aftermath.
When Michael made landfall on this fishing village located on Florida’s Forgotten Coast on Oct. 10, 2018, 90 percent of the homes, condominiums, stores and businesses were destroyed or sustained at least 50 percent damage. A year later countless empty lots where houses once stood dot the roads intersecting Highway 98.
Much of the town’s infrastructure is no longer in existence. Gone are the police and fire stations, water tank, civic center and pier. No grocery stores, restaurants or gas stations remain. Many residents have left the small town that was ground zero for the storm.
Yet almost immediately afterwards, the Harmons said, God’s people and His miracles began to show up.
Members of First Baptist Church in Mexico Beach opened their arms to their town, pouring out food, supplies and diapers and supporting work crews helping to clean up and rebuild homes.
“We received thousands of donations of money, clothes, food, diapers, paper products, which allowed us to meet needs in the community,” said Barbara, who also serves as minister of music of the church with 30 members. “We kept the doors of the church open seven days a week from October through June.”
“If you want to experience God, come to First Baptist Church and get to work in this community,” said pastor Eddie LaFountain. They have seen people accept Christ as their Savior, a dozen baptisms, and volunteers return home with a “fire in their hearts to reach others,” resulting in professions of faith in their own communities, LaFountain said.
During the hurricane, the church’s roof was damaged and the steeple torn off. The church does not have insurance, which was cancelled after the last hurricane tore through the panhandle. Immediately after the storm a roofing company from Miami made the trek to Mexico Beach and replaced the roof and steeple at no cost.
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Source: Baptist Press