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Some locals see hurricanes as divine signs

September 26, 2005|by KAREN HANNA

karenh@herald-mail.com

HAGERSTOWN - Some people might interpret the hurricanes that have battered the Gulf Coast in recent weeks as a sign. Not Lisa Sodee.

Sodee, a retired teacher, is part owner of a piece of family property near Fort Myers, Fla. She donated money to help people devastated by Hurricane Katrina and she said she plans to give some instructional materials to schools struggling to resume classes. She also plans to move south.

"I love Florida. I love Florida. I don't like cold weather," said Sodee, of Hagerstown, as she steered a cart past racks of perennials Sunday outside The Home Depot in Hagerstown.

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Some people said Sunday the storms that have ravaged the Gulf Coast area from Texas to Alabama are signals of a divine displeasure and environmental neglect.

Others see bad weather and bad luck as the cause.

"I don't think it's the work of God. It's just the work of nature, but God will bring something good out of this," Martha Moore, 59, of Gaithersburg, Md., said after services at Zion Baptist Church.

According to church attendees, services Sunday included prayers for the hurricane victims. Hurricane Rita hit northeast Texas and southwest Louisiana early Saturday, weeks after Hurricane Katrina pummeled the Gulf Coast and flooded New Orleans.

As she left church, Dorothy Fletcher, 54, said the storms remind her of the story of Sodom and Gomorrah. According to the Bible, God destroyed the towns because of people's sin.

Though innocent people died in New Orleans, Fletcher said she believes Hurricane Katrina destroyed a bastion of witchcraft and voodoo magic.

"It you're warned, and you don't take heed, you're meant to be punished," Fletcher said.

Fletcher said people everywhere should take notice of what has happened.

"It's a sign for everybody ... it could have happened to anybody, it could have happened anywhere, it could have happened here. It's a sign for an awakening," Fletcher said.

Colyn Brumfield, 25, of Hagerstown, sees the work of both nature and God in the storms. She said people should be mindful of where they live and more respectful of the earth.

"For me personally, I think it's kind of God's way of saying we don't run everything ... and that we take a lot of things for granted, especially the earth. I don't think that we give it the respect that it deserves," Brumfield said.

Brumfield sat outside Wal-Mart in Hagerstown with a cart of groceries. Bulletins posted on the doors and windows of stores at the Centre at Hagerstown informed shoppers of ways they could contribute to the recovery efforts, and a posting at one store advertised discounts for people using relief vouchers.

Brumfield and others said they were dissatisfied with the government's initial response to Hurricane Katrina, which left thousands of people stranded for days in New Orleans surrounded by floodwaters.

"In general, I just think we should just be more respectful of how we treat the earth and be mindful of the fact that everything we cherish so much, it perishes, obviously, and that's not really what's important in life," Brumfield said.

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