Tuesday, September 12, 2017


Savannah's Riverstreet:

When Hurricane Irma had her eye set on the east coast of Florida and Georgia, our Georgia governor ordered a "mandatory" evacuation of all costal communities east of Interstate 95. This included Richmond Hill, 20 miles south of downtown Savannah. It also included the vast majority of Savannah as well as Tybee Island, aka Savannah Beach.

Once the "mandatory" evacuation order came, our bishop dispensed Catholics in the affected areas from the obligation to attend Mass and we priests in the same area could evacuate as good and obedient Georgian citizens.

Although I could have evacuated, I decided to stay and have the normal Masses at St. Anne, 5:30 PM on Saturday and 8:30 and 11:00 AM on Sunday. Our new $10,000,000 Church can seat up to 1,200. On Saturday, we had about 100 attending and on Sunday about 75 at each morning Mass. (I thought to myself, what if this was the normal attendance each Sunday in a 1,200 seat church--what to do, what to do?) Of course we could sell the church to a booming non-denominational church and moved Sunday Mass back to our original Henry Ford Church, the Martha and Mary Chapel named after his mother and mother-in-law. In fact up until about 12 years ago, that little chapel was more than adequate as the parish only had about 100 families compared to the 1,000 today.  But I digress).

I read that some of the Protestant sects held digital services on the internet so that people could worship via the internet wherever they were even if on the road to evacuation. That doesn't work too well for us, but I guess I could celebrate Mass wherever I evacuated to and live-stream it for parishioners. And since the Catholic laity don't need to receive Holy Communion when they attend Mass, only the priest to complete the Sacrifice, wouldn't that work just as well? It's a cool idea, a digital Mass so people can stay at home. But what about the Offertory? The real one, not the offering of the offerings, but the money? How would I get paid? What about my stipends? Oh my!

Since I had about 250 Catholics attending Mass, law breakers who should have evacuated by the time of the Masses, I decided to join my lawbreaking parishioners and not evacuate either. I told them at Mass that I was staying since they were and if anything happened to me it was their fault. As a good Italian, I love placing guilt trips on others!

My rectory is in a normal neighborhood, and believe it or not, eight miles south east of the church (meaning closer to the ocean and tidal marshes and rivers).  I've never lived so far from the Church, but I do have a small chapel in the house. I've gotten use to the commune back and forth several times a day. But I digress.

Since Hurricane Irma decided to set her eye on the west coast of Florida and middle and west Georgia, we didn't start to get tropical storm winds until Monday afternoon. What Jacksonville, Brunswick (St. Simons Island),  Richmond Hill and Savannah didn't realize is that the tides (which in our area make dramatic shifts from high and low, almost like the Bay of Bundy in Nova Scotia or is it New Brunswick?) would cause some major flooding.

Jacksonville had historic flooding from the St. John's River, which is more lake-like than river-like and like the Nile in Egypt flows northward.

Richmond Hill near my rectory had the Tivoli River (a tidal river with a major surrounding marsh) overflow its banks, cover a bridge and the roadway leading to and from it. I can walk to this bridge which has a great fishing, shrimping  and crabbing dock which I did yesterday. The locals said they had never seen anything like it and neither have I! I walked back toward my neighborhood only to see the marsh turning into a major lake and approaching a beautiful home built on the edge of the marsh and soon to be consumed by the rising waters that covered the road in front of it that leads to my subdivision.

The Savannah River in Savannah (which is also a tidal river) overflowed its banks and approached businesses on Riverstreet, a popular tourist destination.

Of course all of this means that global warming, which some say is manmade and other say is an Act of God, is leading us to Armageddon, no?


rcg said...

"What about my stipends?" I nearly spit my coffee. Italian humor is great stuff.

Stay out of high water over roads, downed trees and structures, power lines and poles (not the people, the sticks) and you'll be OK. Now you get to help people who grieve losing stuff. That can be hard to do.

Anonymous said...

Bee here:

Fr. McD;
Glad to know you "weathered" the storm just fine and you're out and about.

Just wanted to mention you have to update your terminology along with the Left. The latest term is "man-made climate change." "Global warming" is so last century.

Note the added, "man-made" into the term. That's to respond to those who argue that perhaps the climate is changing but it may not be due to man's lifestyle on earth.

But I digress... :-)

God bless,

Dialogue said...

The very idea that the government tries to force citizens to leave our homes is offensive. Advice is fine and appreciated; mandatory orders are not.

TJM said...

Hot outside? Global Warming
Cold outside? Global Warming
Mind closed like a trap? Global Warming!

John Nolan said...

There is a popular Catholic newspaper which circulates in the UK and Ireland called 'The Universe' It has been going for a long time and could always be relied on to give a Catholic slant to natural disasters.

Back in the early '60s it reported on a particularly devastating earthquake under the headline 'Nun falls off bicycle'.

ByzRC said...

You could have done a live-stream EF Low Mass with a link to a go-fund-me page for your stipend! Alternatively, you could have had a hurricane party with a cover charge and the option to go into the half bath bunker if the winds really picked up.

Anonymous said...

Bee here:

Fr. McD, did you see this news story about flooding in Livorno, Italy?


Wasn't your mother from Livorno?

God bless,

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

No, I did not see that. Thank you. I still have many first cousins there!

rcg said...

My uncle lives on Edisto Island. He got back to the house and only lost some ice cream and hamburger from the freezer after the power went off for a day.

I asked him if it was kosher the throw them in the same garbage bin. He said shut up.