When the storms hit Doswell last night, wouldn’t you know it, we were there. We took our students to King’s Dominion/Kingsfest, as a “fun” culmination to a week of hard work and heat. We all know that when it gets this hot that big storms are coming.
This was the epitome of those storms. It started around dinnertime with a small storm. It was still raining, but we made our way over to the amphitheatre, where Tenth Avenue North was performing. Three songs later, they stopped the concert, stated that storms were coming and evacuated everyone to the pavilions. We made our way to the furthest pavilion up the hill, as each pavilion was packed with people. Just for you to understand the picture, the pavilion was open-sided, metal clad with metal picnic tables.
As the storm began, it was really not that bad. Lightning and rain were the main components. It would not be long before the monsoon would begin. I have been in bad storms, and this one ranked among the worst. The rain fell harder and harder for an hour or more. Keep in mind, the building that we were in had no sides. At one point, the rain was hitting the metal roof so hard that you could not talk to a person standing right beside you. Some of the teenagers began to get scared, in fact, you could see little huddles of people in every pavilion. It was at this point that we gathered everyone in our pavilion and prayed. There was a bathroom nearby, so we sent the girls to wait in the bathroom; some of the boys decided to go to the men’s room, too.
Our first answer to prayer came when security opened the gate, “for some unknown reason,” and the rain let up for a moment. My son ran to get the van and he told us to count to 65. We all ran for the van, having to cross running water in the King’s Dominion parking lot. It was now time to make it home in this monsoon. To exit the parking lot, we had to travel a piece that had about 18 to 24 inches of water. We got on Interstate-95 South and commenced this leg of the journey. If you were out there, you know what I am talking about. We again prayed over this part of our journey. The storm on the north side of Richmond was much worse than the storm south of Richmond. traveling 35 MPH, with the windshield wipers and defroster on high and emergency flashers on, we traveled with a lot of others. Water was cascading off of bridges and ramps. The bottom line was that we made it home safely.
You never know when you are going to get caught in a situation that is far beyond the norm. Prayer was a key component in all of this. The gate being opened and the rain slacking up for a moment were our immediate answers. At one point, I did think of calling the emergency communications branch in that area to inform them of the large number of people that were stranded or trapped in that situation, but did not because I knew that they were probably overwhelmed by call load. I continue to learn things about helping people through crises. I am thankful that there was a group of us who were able to do some critical thinking through this and got the ones in our pavilion out safely. All of this came when we were tired. I would have rather not gone through this with these teenagers, but it is now a memory with a good ending that we all shared. Be careful and keep an eye to the sky, as the storms said, “ready or not, here we come.”