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Have you noticed how much trouble the experts have had forecasting hurricanes? At first they had tropical storm "Fay" not as a tropical storm but a hurricane going up the west side of Florida, then a bit east at normal hurricane speed. Of course, it turned out to be an incredibly sluggish storm that slowed and sloshed across Florida -- not up the west, as foreseen, but diagonally across the state to the east, taking several more days than predicted, dumping record amounts of rain, and making a record four landfalls -- again, something not seen in advance.

With "Gustav" it was the prediction of basically a direct hit on New Orleans as first a category-three or four that could wreak "Katrina-like" havoc.

This storm too defied prognostications, weakening far more than anticipated, jutting west of the Big Easy, and then heading east before it headed (as projected) toward Texas.

We shall see with the remaining line up. Some of the miscalculations are due to wind shear. Some are due to infusions of dry air (usually behind the cyclone). Some may have to do with little-understood loop currents. We think much of it is due to prayer.

Prayer works -- against anything.

"I live in Thibodaux which is located in southern Louisiana," wrote a viewer named Mary Riviere last week. "Our area was hit very hard by 'Gustav.' Rumors are that we will be without power for weeks. But we know that it could have been so much worse. I am curious as to your thoughts. I remember when 'Katrina' was heading for us a few years ago, but at the last minute unexpectedly made a turn and spared our community.

"This time, we were told it would be at least a category-four, perhaps five, when it hit our parish. But at the last minute some dry air circulated and caused the storm again to unexpectedly weaken. My thoughts are that prayer is the reason we were spared. Our area is very Catholic and very religious. On a personal note, for 'Katrina,' before I left to evacuate, I sprinkled blessed salt around my home and placed a statue of Our Lady of Prompt Succor on my kitchen island and left. Not a shingle on my house was missing. So this time, I did the same and again -- while houses on each side of me sustained damage, I didn't lose a shingle!"

"I feel compelled to email you about the status of my home and family in the wake of 'Gustav,'" added viewer Michelle Marmande. "I live in Dularge, Louisiana, which is a bayou region  south of Houma.

"The eye  of the storm passed over my home. My husband  and I were fully prepared to lose everything. We packed out cherished pictures. I did however leave my pictures of Jesus, Mary,  and  all relics just as they are. I blessed my house with salt and prayed simply for God's Will to be done and strength to handle it. My children asked  why I was leaving my cherished picture of  'Jesus with the Children' above my fireplace and I told them I wanted him to protect  my home.

"Upon inspection of my home  I have been told that I do not even have so much as a shingle missing from  my roof (which was already weakened and had loose shingles). My brother is the district attorney of the area and called me to tell me how weird  it is that my bayou region was virtually untouched. He relayed that the town is flat but Dularge seems as if it was unharmed. Thank you for continuing to pray for us."

Remember six years ago when two hurricanes were expected to hit the Big Easy -- and one diminished at the last moment in a way that still is without explanation?

And does it not seem intriguing that in Key West there is what's known as the Hurricane Grotto at the Lourdes Shrine alongside St. Mary's Star of the Sea Catholic Church specifically established by a nun in 1922 to ward off storms -- and that for decades now that island has been escaping unscathed despite their position directly in the middle of hurricane alley (now see "Ike")?

"I feel like Noah's wife!" wrote Marie VanReenen during Fay. "I live in Indian Harbour Beach (Florida) -- between the river and ocean, and across the causeway from Melbourne. Thirty-five hours of non-stop rain. I sprinkled blessed salt around the property and haven't lost power. I am thanking God for that and for not living in Barefoot Bay." 

As for what one day may come, many think they have encountered signs.

"I just saw a picture of the statue that was vandalized on Apparition Hill," wrote Paulette Kolmar. " I have to tell you what happened to me the morning of 'Katrina.'  

"I was in the process of opening a Catholic book store. I ordered some statues of Our Lady of Grace and Angels and other various statues. That morning I had a dream that my hand was cut off. I looked down and it was severed with a clean cut. The dream was so vivid. There was no physical pain in my dream -- it was almost as though I was looking at a statue.  

"Well, later that day, I opened up some boxes and there was a statue (it was an angel walking a child with its hand extended).  The hand was broken off of the statue. I immediately remembered my dream. That was the afternoon of 'Katrina'!  

"I have thought about it a lot and once in Adoration, I asked the Lord what it all meant. In answer, I immediately thought of the passage (I don't know where exactly, but have read it a lot), 'If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off.' I immediately thought about 'Katrina' and knew that the Lord was referring to the sinful areas in New Orleans. The reason I am writing this:  I just saw the severed hand on the statue at Apparition Hill. That is exactly how my hand looked in my dream, and the statue that arrived in my store broken. My hand in my dream, the hand on my statue, and the hand of the Virgin Mary on Apparition Hill are all the left hand."

Devotion has outweighed even evil in many regions. However, look at the trials of Cuba and voodoo-laden Haiti.

Our thoughts? We have noted that there are accounts of how the state's governor, Bobby Jindal, a convert to Catholicism, was once involved in the deliverance of a classmate from an evil spirit. Obviously, he believes in spiritual warfare.

Now that belief must be pronounced -- publicly.

It is time to speak in candid terms, Governor Jindal, to your residents of how they are tempting fate by allowing evil to possess whole neighborhoods -- as when they hold unclean events such as "Decadence Weekend" (which was scheduled for the same weekend that "Gustav" hit, but did not occur due to the storm, as too it could not go on three years before when -- ironically -- "Katrina" hit).

[resources: Tower of Light and Sent To Earth]

[see also: Retreat, Michael H. Brown, Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, signs of times]

[see also: Could Florida survive major storm?]

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