Isla Blanca – Storms

We often think of a vacation on the beach as a place of resting, not testing.
Yet, when the storms roll in, the vacation definitely becomes an enormous test.

Before the Storm

We recently took the camper down to South Padre Island, Isla Blanca, for a week. I had never been there before and it had been a few decades or more for Jon’s only visit, so when Jon’s uncle mentioned he was going, we invited ourselves along. We have heard how beautiful South Padre is and were excited to check it out and have some fun in the sun, surf and sand.

The trip would be an excellent “shakedown cruise” for the new camper. We had taken it out once right after we bought it, but only to Canyon Lake . Its maiden voyage, however, had been an adventure, given the severe storm with small hail that rolled through in the evening.

While the forecast called for some rain across much of Central and South Texas during the week, with the cold season past we weren’t worried about possible freezing temperatures, and it was a month from the start of hurricane season. So, no worries. Right?

The trip down was uneventful, which we appreciategiven the challenges we had encountered with the previous camper. Isla Blanca and the campground were nice, albeit a bit windswept and hazy, but the choppy water reflected back the grey clouds above. The forecast still held rain, although nothing to get excited about.

When you describe your vacation by saying, “Well, other than the tornado on the first night, and the tornado on the last night, the weather was quite lovely.”

In the Storm

During our first night some thunderstorms developed in Mexico, moved into South Texas, and quickly, unexpectedly turned severe. Booming thunder, constant lightning, torrential rains, andworse of allhigh winds woke us at about 2 am. A quick look at the radar on our phone app showed us in the storm: the form of a bow echo moving over us. The warning issued with potential gusts to 70mph came a little late.

Several trucks pulled up next to the bathhouse across the road; others were taking shelter. We debated with every gust that shook the camper whether or not we should, too, wondering if we would be blown over. We stayed put, praying for protection. The winds eventually died down, along with our extreme unease. Unfortunately, the power went out shortly after.

After the Storm

The next day we walked around the campground and couldn’t help but be grateful for the damage we didn’t have. Awnings and tarps left out ripped to shreds. Numerous campers blown off their jack stands. And near the waterfront, two campers about the size of ours flipped upside down. Thankfully, the weekend campers hadn’t been there. Campers on either side and between them were fine, suggesting the work of a small tornado. As did the flattened road signs Later, the Coast Guard station next to the campground confirmed a max gust of 73 mph in the storm.

Not quite the tropical weather we had planned for the start of our little vacation. The rest of the week, however, was beautiful (read about it in my upcoming blogs: Treasures and Sabbath). That is, until our last night.

Another Storm

On our final evening more storms developed over Mexico , forecasted to move over South Texas. They woke us about 3 am. The radar and the warnings indicated that, while strong, they didn’t appear as bad as the first night. However, dread still gripped me. I had seen the damage from the first storm. As the strong winds blew and threatened, I wanted to trust. But I knew bad things happen. I anticipated the worst and prayed for protection, yet found myself fighting against fear in the storm, unable to sleep or relax. Especially when I heard a deep roar and wondered if it belonged to another tornado.

In the midst of the winds and rain, a quiet voice asked, “Do you trust me?” I had a choice. To continue to fear. Or to trust. I wanted to trust with every fiber of my being. I said, “Yes, I trust you.” With the question and my answer, the fear diminished and I sensed encouragement then to sleep in peace. So I did.

“As the strong winds blew and threatened, I wanted to trust. But I knew bad things happen. In the midst of the winds and rain, a quiet voice asked, ‘Do you trust me?’ I said yes. With the question and my answer, came the encouragement then to sleep in peace. So I did.”

The next morning, having slept through the rest of the storm, we packed up and left for home. While Isla Blanca was spared this time, Port Isabel was not. Our intended road out of town was closed because a tornado had struck a housing area on the north end, killing one, injuring more, destroying several homes and downing power lines across the road.

We waited a bit, without any indication of the roads being cleared, then turned around and took another route Jon’s uncle told us about.

Thankfully, the rest of the weather moved east as we headed north. While our camping trip was bookended by tornados, our travel days were relatively clear and blissfully uneventful.

I’m glad I can say, I chose to trust. However, the question remains, will I do so when I again find myself in the storm.


About Jill English Johnston

God writes His story on every heart, if we only pause to read it. My heart has lived in a fantasy world since early childhood and am delighted that God has finally brought me to the place where I can bring the fantasies to life through story. I am currently working on a fantasy trilogy (of course) but I also post thoughts, reflections and (hopefully) inspiration to my website: I am a follower of the Rabbi Jesus, married to my best friend and inspiration, and the mother of three incredible children, one daughter and two sons, a son-in-love, a daughter-in-love and two adorable granddaughters. When not writing, I passionately pursue prayer, reading (never enough time to read them all!), and the outdoors. My husband and I both served in the US Navy and have lived/travelled through many states and all over Asia. We both still enjoy travelling, but we really love our home in New Braunfels, located at the Texas Hill Country.
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