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The Unwelcome Guests
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Jen Colter, like so many others, decided to ride out the storm (Katrina) from her home. After all, her house in Bay St. Louis had never before flooded. But when the wind and the waves hit, her house started breaking up. Then one entire side collapsed, and she was swept away in the current. Jen clung to the closest board and frantically started kicking toward her neighbor’s house, which was still standing. But the current kept taking her farther and farther away until she found herself among the trees in the woods about two blocks from her home. The incredible thing is that she made it that far without knowing how to swim. Jen kept herself above water by holding on to floating debris. But once caught in the mass of trees, she held on for dear life to the branches.

It would have been safer to grab the lower stronger branches. The problem was, the water was so high that she found herself in the tops of the trees, trying desperately to keep her head above the surface by holding on to tiny branches that snapped off easily.

To make matters worse, other creatures were trying to survive as well—and they weren’t your typical family pets! Water moccasins! Jen is petrified of snakes. When she saw the first snake dart past her, Jen nearly had a heart attack. Her heart began racing so fast, she thought she would die. Her breathing was so rapid she began hyperventilating and almost passed out. If only she could climb higher in the tree to get away from those horrible reptiles—but there was no place to go! All Jen had was a precarious hold on a few tiny branches in the upper most part of a tree.

Stranger Than Fiction

As Jen struggled to hold her nose above water, something big plopped on her head. She screamed! Without thinking, Jen almost let go branch she was holding on to as she tried to hit the creature away. When that didn’t work, she started violently shaking her head to get it off. The harder she shook, the more the creature dug into her hair. Snakes, alligators, lizards were all she could think of. What was it?

Then, above the roar of the wind, she heard a loud, raspy croak right next to her ear! A frog! A huge, gnarly bullfrog was sitting on top of her head. Jen shuddered. How can this be happening to me? she wondered.

And as if this wasn’t bad enough, water moccasins started swimming around her. Could it be they were attracted to the frog—or were they merely curious? Every time one swam within arm’s reach, Jen would hold on to the branch a little tighter with one hand and swat the snake away with the other. The effort was just enough to cause the snakes to be caught up in the current and be dragged in the other direction. Al day long she battled the snakes, thankful it was daylight so she could see the snakes coming. The only way Jen survived was thinking about her family, her friends, and her life, which she knew was never again going to be the same. And throughout it all, she prayed, shouting to God above the wind. “God, help me! God, You ain’t done with me yet. I’m not goin’ down like this. God, You’ve got to help me.”

At one point during the storm she saw a deer—just a short distance away—trying desperately to swim and hold its head above water. For a brief second, they stared at each other, and Jen could see the terror in its eyes. That sight will haunt her for the rest of her life. Minutes later, she watched the deer disappear beneath the surface.

For six hours, Jen clung to the tree. As the water receded, she grasped the next lowest branch, inching her way down until her feet touched the ground. The water was still above her waist. But now, with both hands free, she was finally able to fling the frog from her head.

When she walked out of the woods and told her story, Jen ended by saying, “I can’t believe I made it through the hell of that storm. I know God took care of me. I wish I could understand why so many others didn’t make it. I am thankful to be alive.” Then she added, “I’m sure the frog is too!”

Did you enjoy reading this article? Many more are available in the book “Between Hell and High Water” by Kay Kuzma and Brenda Walsh. To order call: 1-800-765-6955 or go online at AdventistBookCenter.com

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By Kay Kuzma and Brenda Walsh.  Excerpts reprinted with permission from Signs of the Times July 2006. Copyright © 2007 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines.

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