Hurricane Michael made landfall near Mexico Beach, Florida on October 15th. The Category 4 storm brought immense destruction and took the lives of over 39 people. As the hurricane came closer to the Florida shore, many families made the choice to seek shelter in various locations. One such couple, Stephanie and Will Cribbs, who call Mexico Beach home, decided to move their family inland to the only shelter they could think of last minute, that being a warehouse owned by the Cribbs’ father.
The Cribbs family, which included Stephanie, Will, and their four children, aged six, six, five and two, decided to leave their home, which sat only a quarter-mile from shore. The small family left their Mexico Beach house at around 6:30 a.m. and made their way inland to seek shelter and hopefully remain protected from the fierce power of Hurricane Michael within the warehouse. Before leaving their house, though, the family took time to say a quick prayer, not knowing if their house would remain standing through the storm. Stephanie Cribbs said they asked God to protect their house and their family.
“We just left the house not knowing what was going to happen after that,” she said.
The warehouse the family sought shelter within was only a few streets away from their house, but was further from the beach. Unfortunately, it proved to be a poor shelter, even though it had never before flooded in any other storm and was thus thought of as safe.
“When it really started coming in, we could feel the walls shaking,” Stephanie explained. “You could hear the howling. It was just a very eerie sound. When the eye came over, you could look down the road and see it looked like a little river trickling down and all of sudden it was this massive flood racing through.”
Stephanie said she watched trees get uprooted and her family’s cars be washed away. However, she said the scariest moment came when the warehouse doors were forced open by the sheer power of the wind and rain.
“When it popped open, we were at ankle-deep water, then it was waist-deep and then it was up to our chest in a matter of a minute or two,” she said.
The Cribbs family, along with their 91-year-old grandmother, parents, and four dogs climbed towards the roof of the warehouse in order to keep their heads above the rapidly rising water.
“When the water started rising, my son, we put him up on one of the desks in the warehouse and were trying to make sure that the door was getting secured and just figured out what we were going to do next,” Stephanie continued. “He just kept screaming ‘We are going to die! We are going to die!’”
Stephanie’s reply to her frantic son was one that exemplifies true faith lived out in a moment of fear and uncertainty like the Cribbs had probably never experienced before.
“I just said to him, ‘We are not going to die, in the name of Jesus, we are not going to die.’ That was the hardest thing.”
Thankfully, the water which so rapidly rose began to subside just as quickly. The Cribbs family waited in the safety of the warehouse for four hours after the storm abated to walk back to where their home previously stood. They prepared themselves for the worst, seeing the damage all around them.
As the family made the trek back to their home on foot, they saw that almost every home in their neighborhood either had the windows blown out or a tree through their roof or worse. The Cribbs began to fear even more what they would find when reaching their home. However, when they finally laid eyes on their home for the first time after storm, they were amazed at what they saw.
“It was like God put a bubble over our house. It was absolutely amazing. Our house is so protected. If you look around our street everywhere—behind us, in front of us, the sides of us—everybody has a tree in their house or they are missing a wall or their house is gone. Here our house is standing.”
The Cribbs family had several trees fall in their backyard, yet all of them managed to miss their house, which is even more miraculous.
Stephanie credits God with keeping her family safe in the warehouse as well as protecting her home from the destructive power of Hurricane Michael. It seems the power of this hurricane was nothing when compared to the power of the one true God.
~ 1776 Christian