Perhaps you heard about the fire at the Patrick Cudahy meating processing plant in Cudahy, Wisconsin. It made national news. The cause is yet unknown of the fire that continued to blaze for nearly 48 hours. Fire departments from all over the state – more than two dozen of them – were called in to help the stressed and exhausted Cudahy firefighters. They used more than 16 million gallons of water to dose the flames and a water use restriction was placed on all Cudahy residents because the municipality was running out of water. The fire loomed close to ammonia tanks and the threat of toxic fumes forced the city to declare a mandatory evacuation of all residents within a one mile radius of the plant. Our family was one of them.
A call came early Monday morning. It was one of those automated recordings from the Cudahy superintendent of schools requiring everyone to leave immediately and asking us to notify neighbors who don’t have school age children. Within an hour, the police were coming down our street going door to door to enforce the evacuation. Without knowing what lay ahead, we grabbed the most necessary items and headed for the evacuation center.
All the while we were packing up, I wondered if what we were feeling and experiencing was like what the Blessed Mother and St. Joseph felt and experienced when the angel directed them to go to Egypt. The circumstances were similar – our “angel” was a police man at the door, our “Herod” was a catastrophic fire in a meating packing plant, and our “Egypt” was a local high school converted into an evacuation center but we also faced the uncertainty of not knowing what would become of our home, how long we’d be gone or what the future held for us. As we left the house, I uttered a prayer of petition to the Holy Family to care for our home, our family, and our future. Then I uttered another prayer, this time one of thanksgiving for the example they set for us.