"Oy gevalt! Someone's pounding on my door. All right! I'm coming," said Aunt Alyssa as she quickly got up from the kitchen table and walked to the front door. "You don't have to break down my--"
As she opened the door, a large law-enforcement agent barked orders. "You need to evacuate this house immediately! You have no more than five minutes to gather your belongings and leave."
"What's wrong?" she asked, trying to keep her voice from sounding as shaky as she felt inside.
"Everyone on this street is in grave danger. That's all I can tell you. I suggest you make the most of your five minutes. We're prepared to carry you out if necessary."
"Taylor, hang up!" said Aunt Alyssa as she tapped her on the arm. "Put away your cell phone."
"I'll be done in a second," Taylor replied.
Taylor stared in disbelief as Aunt Alyssa took the phone from her hand.
"We need to gather some things very quickly. The police are evacuating us in less than five minutes."
"I don't want to leave these behind," Alyssa remarked as she located her violin and several photo albums.
She handed Taylor a warm coat and a few pieces of clothing, and then shut the bedroom door behind them.
By the time they reached the front door, a police officer was already pounding on it.
"We're leaving," Aunt Alyssa said as she opened the door, and then locked it behind her.
Walking past the officer, she asked, "Why are some of my neighbors standing outside in the cold?"
"We're evacuating everyone," he replied, "but some say they have no place to go. We're arranging for a bus to transport them to a homeless shelter."
After Taylor helped Aunt Alyssa pack her things in the car trunk, Aunt Alyssa returned to talk to the officer.
"I'm taking some of my neighbors with me!" she stated emphatically.
The officer nodded. "Just leave quickly," he replied.
"Oh, thank you!" she responded, as she picked up her few belongings and walked to Aunt Alyssa's car.
Four more neighbors accepted Aunt Alyssa's invitation and eagerly squeezed into the backseat, after putting their belongings in the trunk.
Taylor sat sandwiched in between Aunt Alyssa and Mrs. Bolero. "Where are we going?" Taylor asked as they quickly drove away.
"First, to your house," she replied. "Then . . . we'll see."
"Oh, good!" Taylor sighed in relief as they arrived at her house. "At least the cops aren't evacuating us."
Taylor and Aunt Alyssa helped their neighbors climb out of the backseat and gather their belongings.
"Your mother isn't, but I am," Paul replied, as he walked into the living room. "Oh, hello," he greeted the unexpected guests. "Make yourselves comfortable."
"Everyone on my street has been evacuated," Aunt Alyssa explained. "The police gave us just five minutes to gather our things and leave. My neighbors were shivering outside in the cold, with no place to go. The police planned to have them transported to a homeless shelter."
"Would anyone like some hot coffee?" Taylor asked.
"Oh that would be wonderful!" Mrs. Bolero exclaimed, and the others agreed.
"I'll go make a pot. It'll take just a few minutes." Taylor disappeared into the kitchen, with her father following behind her.
"We have part of a cake left over from yesterday," he suggested.
"She's at the church," Paul replied. "Because of how quickly everything is happening, preparations at the church have to be speeded up. By tonight the church must be able to accommodate 200 people."
"Why would that many people need a place to stay?" Taylor questioned.
"Honey, thousands of people will probably be evacuated by this evening . . . if not sooner."
Seeing the startled look on his daughter's face, Paul hugged her. "Always remember that God is with us, Taylor. No matter what happens, He will help us. I need to continue calling businesses to request donations of supplies and money to feed and house people at the church. I'm going upstairs. I'll see you later."
"Taylor," Aunt Alyssa said, as she entered the kitchen just as Paul was leaving, "after we serve coffee to our guests, you and I must resume calling the student volunteers. Their help is needed now more than ever."
"Are Miranda and Matt okay, Aunt Alyssa?" Taylor asked.
"Yes, I called Miranda. Her family is fine, and so is Matt's, thank God." Aunt Alyssa paused. "Have you tried calling your friend Cristiana?"
"She doesn't have a cell phone, and since her apartment building was evacuated, I have no way to reach her."
Aunt Alyssa could hear the fear in Taylor's voice. "Try not to worry. She's in God's hands, just as we all are, and He loves us."
A few hours later Taylor remarked to Aunt Alyssa, "Well, it's four o'clock, and we've called every student who expressed an interest in the ‘We Care About Our Neighbors' program. I'm amazed that we have 40 volunteers!"
"And we will need every one of them," Aunt Alyssa commented. "Hopefully, they will all meet us at the church at six o'clock. Taylor, you and your dad should start gathering some basic supplies to take with us to the church, just in case you need to stay there overnight."
"Do you think that the cops will evacuate us, too?" Taylor asked anxiously.
"At this point, no one knows, but we should be prepared in case they do."
What's going on? Why are they evacuating people? What dangers are the authorities not telling us about? Taylor wondered.
Having called all the businesses on his list, Paul packed a suitcase with clothes and personal items that he and Abby might need and brought them out to the car.
Meanwhile, Taylor threw some clothes in a suitcase and grabbed her backpack. While Aunt Alyssa encouraged their guests to get ready to move to the church, Taylor put several bags of nonperishable foods in the trunk of her father's car. Then she returned to the kitchen to pick up two cans of coffee and a few loaves of bread.
I guess if Jesus could feed 5,000 with two small fish and five loaves of bread, then He will multiply the food to feed 200 people for a few days.
Taylor decided to turn on the radio for a moment.
"Thus far, 5,000 people have been evacuated from their homes. The authorities aren't saying exactly what threat they have received. They say it is a credible threat and the danger is real. So once again, we repeat: If the police tell you to leave your home, please do what they say--for your own safety and the safety of those you love."
Taylor shut off the radio, and took one final look around the kitchen to see if she had forgotten anything.
I feel like I'm a character in a scary movie, and I wonder what's coming next!
"Father," Taylor prayed, "please help each of us to trust You and not panic. Thank You for loving us and always being with us every moment."
Taylor locked the front door behind her and climbed into Paul's car. With Aunt Alyssa leading the way, the two cars headed for the church . . . and whatever challenges would await them.
(Be sure to read the exciting conclusion, "Emergency: Good Samaritans Needed, Part 4.")