“Into each life some rain must fall. Some days must be dark and dreary.”– Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Life in a Natural Disaster-Prone Paradise
I live in a beautiful location. Southeast Florida right on the water. It’s a paradise most of the year. This home was a dream home for David and me when we bought it 16 years ago. The price I pay: living where a natural disaster may hit: a hurricane-prone location. Hurricanes do tend to visit us every once in a while.
I’ve been through quite a few hurricanes already in this home. In fact, when our first hurricane in this house visited, I was 6 months pregnant. We had only been in the house a short time and let me tell you it was not hurricane proof. We certainly learned a lot with french doors that flew open, the roof destroyed and rain coming in, three weeks without electricity…what an experience.
Funny thing is, when I think about those early days here, I have only wonderful memories of how my husband and I overcame the challenges today. It brings a smile to my face. I was never worried – he was my hero. Since then, we’re so much more prepared for a hurricane, generator, new roof, hurricane proof windows and doors – well you get the picture.
Emotional Growth During a Natural Disaster
Today, I’m waiting out a possible visit by Hurricane Dorian. A hurricane warning has been officially issued for our area. This will be my first hurricane without David. Just me and my 14 year old daughter – alone – in our house – on the water. I’m solely responsible.
Hold it – don’t worry – I’m not about to go into a “woe is me” moment. Instead, I wanted to share my emotional wisdom with you.
You can guide yourself through a natural disaster by following these tips to managing your emotions:
Your thoughts matter
At first I was scared, missing David, feeling sorry for myself. Looking at it objectively, I was able to modify my actions by modifying my thoughts and feelings. This is extremely important for emotional fortitude.
Make decisions and then just stick to them
In a natural disaster, the decisions you make are much more critical than those normal day to day decisions. To evacuate or not? That was my most difficult decision. But once the decision is made, just live with it and move on.
Organize your preparation
Preparations can be overwhelming. Where to start, what to do, how to do it. There’s tons of lists on the web for general actions to take before a natural disaster; but I realize now that to really keep peace of mind, you need to do more than just make a list. Write down all the preparation tasks you can think of either from one of those lists, your own experience, or just common sense. Then for each task, ask and answer these questions:
- What to do?
- How to do it? Do you know what’s involved? What is needed? Do you have everything needed? If no to any of these questions, who can you ask?
- Who can do it? Is this something you can do yourself or do you need help? Who do you think can do it?
- When to do it? What is the time critical nature of the task? When does it need to be done?
Ask for help
…and accept offers of help. Believe it or not, this took me a few days to figure out. I was panicked about all I had to do and didn’t know how to do or wasn’t capable of doing. But guess what, I have people who care about me who can, will, and did. I have had family, friends, and neighbors all helping do those things that David normally would have done, that I didn’t know how to do, or that I can’t do right now because of my injured foot.
Just as others are helping, it’s really difficult to say no to someone’s request when a natural disaster is pending. But it’s important to do so. For me, my neighbor across the canal tied his 61 foot boat across to our side to keep the boat from moving in the storm. Since I just spent a small fortune repairing my seawall, I was nervous about having that strain on the seawall. So I told them in no uncertain terms that they could not tie to my dock/pilings. It’s OK, they understood, they used the neighbors on either side of me and one less thing for me to be worried about.
Include household members
My 14 year old has been helping me with all the preparations and also with decisions along the way. I even got her opinion on whether to evacuate. This makes her feel more in control of her own situation and she’s had some great ideas along the way also.
I am so unbelievably grateful for the number of people who have not just reached out to help but have actively helped me prepare. I am grateful for all the people who have stopped by, texted, phoned because they care about me and are concerned for me. So much love makes me feel so much better. I am grateful that over the years David and I hurricane-proofed the house; and that I did even more (like installing a generator switch) just a few months ago.
Depending on the situation, you may have days before the disaster hits. During those preparation days, be sure to take care of yourself. Exercise, eat well, take a bubble bath, read a good book, whatever helps you to maintain your health and well being.
Well that’s it for now. Sending this to you all before the storm hits. Talk to you “on the other side”.
After the Natural Disaster
The storm has finally moved on. Outside the sky is still eerie but the wind has died down, the rain stopped falling. It’s exactly one week since the storm notification began. I am at peace. I think about this experience and realize how similar it is to the storm that began when David died. I didn’t have any warning. But what I did have was a sudden overwhelm of not knowing what to do, how to do it, how was I going to get through this without him? This past week has been a snapshot version – I didn’t know what to do, how to do it, and how I was going to get through it. But guess what: I did. I came through the storm and sit here in the calm and peace of the aftermath, and I too am at peace.
This potential natural disaster has given me an amazing amount of emotional growth.
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