“For better or worse.”
When couples make that vow, there is an implicit expectation that the ‘worse’ is – at best – a distant promise.
But Hurricane Irma delivered it to one couple’s doorstep just a few weeks after they said, “I do.”
First Coast News has been catching up with families hardest hit by the storm, including several that were part of our hourlong documentary on San Marco, “5 Feet High and Rising”
For Shannon and David Harris, the storm’s anniversary closely tracks their own.
“The hardest night was the first night,” David Harris recalled recently. “She had gotten in the shower at her mom’s house, and we were all kind of like absorbing everything from the day. I sat on the guest bed at her mom’s house, and just started crying.”
“That,” observes Shannon, “was not fun at all.”
But one year later, the pair has settled into a new home – not in San Marco, but in San Mateo. While staying at a friend’s house for four months was difficult, it allowed them to save enough to make a down payment on their own house.
“Because of Irma, now we own a home,” says David. “It was a tradeoff for sure. We had one horrible, hard thing happen, and then 50 subsequent amazing things happen.”
“It turned out to be a significant event in our life that brought something good,” observes Shannon. “If anything, it really did make our marriage stronger.”
As a fresh hurricane season serves up reminders of the storm, the couple says they feel the pangs of recognition, but not dread.
“I don’t feel weakened. I don’t feel scared,” says Shannon. “I don’t mean to diminish or minimize [what happened], because it sucked if I’m being honest,” she laughs.
For weeks after the storm, she says, the couple was overwhelmed with shock and sadness and shock. But in many ways, the disaster sent them on a happier path.
“To look where we are now … it was crazy to see how it turned around like that,’ says David.
Shannon emphasizes, “I do not – absolutely do not -- want to ever lose my house to a hurricane again,” she says, “but it’s just a reminder how blessed we were because people had it worse. We were too fortunate.”