The successor to Hurricane Harvey, Hurricane Irma has already had an encounter with an integral part of Liberty University’s family.
The head pastor of Thomas Road Baptist Church, Jonathan Falwell, and his wife, Shari, were celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary on the Caribbean island of St.
Martin when they were caught in the middle of a Category 5 storm.
Falwell addressed his congregation Sunday, Sept. 10, and recounted their experience in the storm.
Initially, the Falwells planned to leave Tuesday, but the airport shut down before they could make their flight.
Stuck, they retreated to a shelter for the evening.
“You cannot imagine the destructive force that was in a Category 5 hurricane,” Falwell said.
“I had no idea what to expect, and now I know what to expect, and I can guarantee you, I ain’t ever doing that again.”
According to Falwell, the shelter put them in a room with about 300 people.
Around 5 a.m., the group was moved into a smaller room as the storm intensified.
“When we moved into that room, about 15 minutes later, that room that we had been in all night literally exploded,” Falwell said.
“The roof was gone, the walls were gone, everything was destroyed. Had we been 15 minutes later, I would not be standing here today. My wife would not be here today.”
For the remainder of the storm, Falwell said the concrete room they had moved to was shaking and rattling, and people were trying hold the doors shut.
“It was absolutely the scariest thing I’ve ever been through in my life,” Falwell said.
“To see what that island looks like today, the fact that there are only 11 confirmed fatalities as result of that storm, is nothing short of a miracle of God because the island is completely gone.”
Falwell talked about how the people who live there lost everything and then announced he would be returning to St. Martin that afternoon and return to Lynchburg the following evening.
“I’m flying back (to St. Martin) this afternoon because God has opened some doors for me,” Falwell said.
“I firmly believe this with all of my heart—to do ministry and minister to those people who, now that all of the Americans and all of the tourists are gone, (are) sitting there and have to rebuild everything.”
PANYARD is the news editor.