My head and heart are overflowing with thoughts and emotions about the hurricane we all just survived. I have heard so many great stories of goodness coming about in the aftermath.

I don’t think I can express my gratitude for this community any better than anyone else has so far. We all love this place, this Lowcountry. It might not be so pretty right now, but it’s about more than our environment. It’s all about the people – our friends, our neighbors.

The people make this place what it is.

Perhaps the best way to express what I’m experiencing is to share the following, most of which I wrote in an email to my siblings after I returned from our evacuation trip to Atlanta.

“Dear siblings,

I’m HOME! And it’s all good! No water inside, which was our primary concern, no big trees down (although there are hundreds down in our neighborhood, some on top of houses), plus we have water and power. Thank the good Lord for his mercies!

Amos and the boys will be here tomorrow, but I needed to get back to work. I will likely work though the weekend – not our typical schedule. But that’s okay. I have a job to go to!

I am tired from the drive, but exhilarated to see home. Our neighborhood is trashed, but what an amazing bunch of neighbors we have. I drove through the ‘hood before I came to our house, making a video for the boys to watch. I noticed as I did so that I was naming each neighbor as I passed a house. What a blessing to know most of your neighbors.

And as I drove, many of them were out in their yards or next door, still cleaning and clearing and chopping. David told me he blew debris off my driveway for me because it had been covered, and he knew I was coming home soon. Lavon passed in his car and stopped when he saw me, and we both automatically got out of our cars for a quick hug in the street.

I stopped to thank Kate for sending a photo of the back of our house on Sunday. And Matt and Billy, whom I didn’t see tonight, have been going all out with chainsaws and cutting up trees that fell across the streets (there are only two streets in our neighborhood).

Our next-door neighbor Jamie called me when he realized I was home and we talked for nearly an hour. He works for the Town and had to stay, camped out at the USCB campus in Bluffton, with law enforcement, other staff, utility workers, the mayor, etc. He was exhausted but said it was good to talk to someone he hadn’t spent the past five days with.

I’m grateful our house was spared, but I’m so sad for my neighbors who didn’t fare as well. Tim and Stephany’s house next door flooded and they had a massive tree fall. Rob and Hanna, directly across the street, have three large trees through their roof, one right through the ceiling. Neither of these two young families can live in their homes yet.”

To a friend, I wrote in an email: “Yesterday, when I got home from work, Amos was walking down our street with three neighbors. One of them, Ben, a 30-something-year-old firefighter who said he was just getting off a 120-hour shift, walked straight to me and gave me a big hug. He said, “I’m so glad you’re okay.” I thought I’d start bawling. This is a guy who has lived here with his wife and kids for maybe eight years, and I think we’ve had two conversations in that time.

And I met two other neighbors last night, there in the street. Amazing things are happening in the aftermath.”

I’m home. And home is a good place to be.