A Refuge from the Storm
by Melanie Hemry
Pat Hicks listened to the weather while she filled her old rain barrel full of water. It was Sunday and the storm had a name now. Andrew. It was a harmless sounding name, and the forecasters expected it to be harmless enough in Miami, veering instead to the West Palm Beach area.
Still, Pat had lived in Florida long enough to learn the value of the old Boy Scout motto: Be Prepared. She and her husband, Del, had lived through Hurricane Donna in 1960, and Cleo in 1964, as well as Betsy, and David.
Pat ran a weary hand through her hair and gazed at her reflection in the water. She hadn't slept since Thursday. There had been too much to get done. The windows and doors had to be secured with awnings or plywood; barrels, pans and bathtubs filled with water, outdoor items stored inside, and extra food supplies purchased.
Besides storm precautions for her own home, Pat had to help prepare her invalid mother's house. Mama! Pat ran inside to call again about refills for her mother's oxygen tanks. The portable tank was almost empty, and her regular supply ran off electricity. If they should lose power.
After several unsuccessful calls, Pat cradled the phone in anguish. Were there no oxygen supplies left in Miami? Just then a weather report came on TV with an updated forecast. Listening, Pat stood as still as the balmy air outside.
The report wasn't good. Recent developments indicated that earlier predictions had been wrong. The storm wouldn't veer to West Palm Beach, after all. It was staying on course for Miami. The eye of the storm, with winds exceeding 150 mph, was heading directly toward the Hicks' house!
We'll load up Mama and the rest of the family and get out of Miami before it hits, Pat reasoned. Besides, there's probably plenty of oxygen inland.
Glancing out the window, she saw Del stepping out of his van. She knew by his somber expression that he had bad news.
"Baby, there's no way out of town," he said. "A million cars are bumper-to-bumper along every lane of highway leaving the city. And the traffic isn't moving more than 5 mph. Whatever's coming our way, we'll have to face right here."
Del and Pat Hicks were no strangers to facing obstacles head-on. Just over a year before, Del, a boat captain, had been aboard an airplane that had crashed into the ocean. Lost at sea for three days, he had held tight to the lifeline of Psalm 91, quoting the scripture from memory until he lost consciousness.
The airplane crash didn't kill him, the sharks couldn't eat him, and the ocean couldn't drown him. He had no intention of handing over an inch of his victory to the devil now. His old foe was back, trying to steal, kill and destroy - this time with a hurricane. Grabbing a hammer and the last of the plywood, Del headed back to his mother-in-law's to finish securing her house.
"We heard on the news," Pat says, "that the storm had swept through the Bahamas and was gathering strength moving toward Miami. I stepped outside and looked around. The weather was warm and deceptively beautiful, as it so often is before a hurricane.
"Our children had been born and raised in this house. Now our grandchildren play underneath the palm trees. I looked at our big old maple tree - it shouldn't even be able to grow this far south. Every tree and shrub on our property was woven into our family history with a story of its own. I couldn't bear to think of losing even one of them."
Pat Hicks had no power to hold back 150-mile winds, and she couldn't reign in a hurricane. But she knew the One Who could. Walking off the boundary of her property, she began to pray.
"Father," she began, "I understand from the weather report that I have 150-mile winds headed toward my home in the morning. Lord, without Your help, I don't believe my house can take it. So I'll do what Abraham did. I'll walk off my property, claiming it as my inheritance. Like Moses applied lamb's blood to the doorposts of his house when the death angel swept through Egypt, by faith I apply the blood of the Lamb, Jesus Christ, to this property.
"Father, it must seem like I'm always coming to You with the 91st Psalm. I know there are other Scripture promises I could stand on, but I've seen this Psalm in my heart, and I know it's as true today as it was when it was first spoken. So today, I declare that Del and I dwell in the secret place of the Most High. We shall remain stable and fixed under the shadow of the Almighty against Whom no foe can stand. We say that You, Lord, are our God and our refuge in this storm."
Pat walked to the steel utility shed in the backyard. Laying her hands on the wall she prayed, "Father, this could do a lot of damage if it came apart. Therefore, I speak peace to this shed. I say you will not come apart. I speak strength to every part of this shed, in the Name of Jesus."
Walking from tree to tree, Pat touched each one lovingly saying, "This tree is now under the shadow of the Almighty."
Once their property was covered in prayer, Pat and Del figured it was the safest place in Miami. They gathered her mother, Henrietta, her husband, Gilbert, himself a victim of Alzheimer's disease, and his son Gary, and brought them to their home.
A total of 11 family members and two dogs gathered for shelter under the Hicks' roof. At midnight their daughter, Alicia, turned off the television and turned to her mother. "You haven't had any rest," she said. "Let's go to bed and sleep as long as we can. There's nothing else we can do now."
Outside, the rain - which started at dusk - intensified, driven by gusting winds. Electrical power failed at 2 o'clock in the morning. The hum of the air conditioner stopped, leaving an eerie silence in contrast to the noise of the storm. Pat jumped up and ran to her mother, rationing what remained of the oxygen supply. Within minutes the house, sealed from the storm, began to warm like an oven.
"Sleep was out of the question now," Pat says. "We put a battery-operated television in the middle of our king-size bed, and the family piled around it to watch the weather reports. As the storm intensified, we could hear things slamming into the house."
For hours heavy objects beat against the house like a battering ram. "Lord, what was that?"
"Did you hear that...?"
By 4 o'clock in the morning, the storm was so violent it seemed as though the house trembled. It sounded like freight trains roaring through a tunnel. Suddenly Del said, "Baby! It looks like we're about to lose the roof!"
Pat responded quickly, "Everybody, lay hands on the walls and speak the Name of Jesus."
Moment by moment, the shuddering roof held its position, proving without question that the Name of Jesus has far more authority than any hurricane.
"Our house is in a direct line parallel to the weather service's Hurricane Center," Pat explains. "Around 5 o'clock in the morning we watched a radar report of the eyewall moving inland. Despite the fact that the eye of the storm was farther south, high winds hit the Hurricane Center, taking out their wind meter, their radar and everything on top of the building. The last reading on the wind meter recorded winds up to 163 mph."
By that time, the Hicks' house was being slammed by one object after another as the hurricane disassembled the surrounding neighborhood and hurled its pieces to the wind. "It sounded like cars hitting the house. We tried looking out the window, but due to the darkness and objects flying by so fast, you couldn't distinguish what they were. Something crashed so loud in the backyard it sounded like the shed had blown apart."
By 7 o'clock in the morning, the storm began to subside. Around 7:30 a.m., Capt. Hicks and his family stepped outside to a scene that looked like a bombed out war zone.
"Sheds were hanging from electrical wires," Del remembers. "Half the house behind us to the north was missing. Most of the homes in the neighborhood had extensive damage to all or part of their roofs. Debris was strewn everywhere. Trees were uprooted or missing altogether. Ours was the only home in the area with a shed intact. The shed doors had blown open, but miraculously everything was inside."
When neighbors ventured out to survey the damage, they stared at the Hicks' yard. One man asked Pat, "What did you do?"
"What do you mean?"
"What did you do to protect your place? You still have every tree."
Sure enough, the two huge trees in the front were burned by the wind, but alive and well. The palm trees were intact. The maple had fallen over, but when Del replanted it, it took root and grew.
"Our property looked like an oasis in a desert of destruction," Pat says.
Pat and Del Hicks thank God that the eyewall of the hurricane moved 7 miles south of a direct hit on their house. But they aren't the least bit surprised. They knew it had to go around or over their property, because the eye couldn't go through the protection that had been placed there.
In the aftermath of the storm, friends and family members whose homes were destroyed sought refuge with the Hicks. For three weeks, 14 people lived in their four-bedroom, two-bathroom home.
"When the streets were cleared, we drove through a 40-mile area and cried," Pat says. "The devastation was beyond description. It broke my heart to see how many people lost property and possessions at the hand of the enemy."
One thing the Hicks are certain about: The devil will stop at nothing but the Name of Jesus. They believe more than ever in the importance of being prepared - in the natural and in the spiritual. That's why they begin every day with the 91st Psalm. It is - and always will be - their refuge in every storm.
On August 24, 1992, the storm of the century raged through Dade County, Fla., with winds in excess of 200 mph. Its name - Andrew. Hurricane Andrew. Within hours, more than 250,000 people were left homeless. Twenty-six people lost their lives. Thousands of people were without clean drinking water and electricity for days. More than 70 percent of all trees were battered beyond salvage. Both the avocado and lime crops were destroyed. Homestead Air Force Base was destroyed.
The damage has been estimated at $20 billion - that exceeds Hurricane Hugo which struck South Carolina in 1989, and the 1989 earthquake in San Francisco. And the statistics go on...
Before Andrew hit the Miami area, KCM Partners Capt. and Mrs. Del Hicks claimed God's protection, and by faith applied it to their property and family. As you read their story of triumph, be encouraged to walk in your covenant rights of protection, provision and blessing. No storm is too great for our God!
God has chosen you to be born in the most crucial time in the history of the world. “Wait!” you might say. “What do I have to offer a hurting world?” I’m glad you asked. Yes, there are wars, terrorist attacks, AIDS, epidemics, earthquakes, hurricanes and other natural disasters—BUT God has a secret weapon that He has kept hidden for such a time as this. What is that powerful weapon? It is YOU emerging from the cocoon of your Clark Kent self and becoming everything that God created you to be. This site is dedicated to helping you realize who you are in Christ and how you can release the power of God to a hurting world.