Current Events, Every Day Living, Grief And Loss, Sistah Take A Seat

Sistah Take A Seat: Irma Don’t Own Me

Disclaimer: I have legit hurricane-related PTSD stemming back to Hurricane David while living in St Maarten. I was four. But I distinctly remember my dad taking me to school and him picking me up in knee deep water. We walked home. Due to roof leakage, we lost half of our family photos at that time. I lost trust in aluminum roofs. Irma came and decimated St. Maarten and there went my plans to return for our 20th anniversary trip. It would have been my first time back. Pray for the people of St. Martin/St. Maarten. 

Andrew. Enough said. The people of those communities still recall the smells and sounds. I know colleagues who just couldn’t deal with it this time around. They just left. To preserve life and peace of mind. 

Wilma swung by and found me as a fairly new homeowner trying to keep grips on my one earthly major investment. We lost a patio, replaced a roof, and watched our pockets bleed dry from an insurance company’s piracy for many years to come. 

So when Irma came around, I was as ready as could be (or so I thought). The hurricane that never was (Matthew in 2016) had me in stores buying up all the canned goods I could get. What threw me for a loop was the water thing this time around. Water was gone by Monday, Labor Day. Like even the one you were supposed to get via Walmart Grocery Pick Up or Instacart. I got nervous. But God knew best and sent an angel our way to bless us as we had just days before blessed Houston. 

Hurricanes are a part of life in these parts. And as much as we would like to prefer it not be, it just is. But there are things to mitigate the level of impact physically and emotionally. Here’s a glimpse into some things I learned along the way. 

Don’t be cheap. Invest in the canned foods, rice and beans. They last two to three years and annual review of your supplies can mean blessing a shelter or homeless program with items that may expire soon. 

Invest in some big ticket items. Invest in a generator. Homeowners, you can’t go wrong with this investment. Your perishable items will last in the fridge and you can power up your electronics with ease. Invest in a deep freezer and keep it stocked with ice and frozen water year round.  This kept our stuff cold through five days of no power. Invest in a grill and/or table top hot plates. Hot food. Every. Day. Enough said. 

Invest in a portable TV. We kept updated with relevant news during that time. The not knowing can sometimes be at a detriment to self and loved ones. We were able to pass along info to others because of this. Invest in a stand alone or window AC. Our handy man gave us this idea one day before our electricity came back on. Twenty twenty being hindsight, I still would have gotten it. Thirty minutes of set up, a line to the generator and we had a guest room where my husband and I and his mom slept in comfort. Too bad we got the idea one day before power returned. We placed the AC back in the box. No we are not returning it. Hurricanes aren’t an IF but a WHEN type of occurrence. 

I used the word INVEST several times. Something that some may find to be a foreign idea. Simply put. One pair of shoes bought at Ross is a portable TV. One Dooney and Burke purse on sale at TJ Maxx is a portable AC. A Louis Vuitton purse from Nordstrom (2016 Damier) can get you a generator, grill, deep freezer, solar powered lamps, and fully stocked food and supplies. 

So when I told people I didn’t have power, it meant I took cold showers and didn’t have AC (until my most recent investment). It meant I read a book in one day. It meant my clothes were washed from the week before. It meant I ate hot meals and planned the day’s menu with my husband and his mom. It meant my brother and dad coming over for a hot meal. It meant catching the breeze with extended family and eating more avocados than the law allows. 

Don’t let your trying times overwhelm you into inertia. Not having power does not mean you don’t have POWER. I am no expert. Just a student of life who takes copious notes and learn from my experiences and that of others. 

Manage what’s within your realm and see what God does with the rest. 

Advertisements
Current Events, Every Day Living

Irma and Harvey: Rude Awakenings

I got the chance to scroll through my timeline after the fact, marveling at the tenacity and wicked sense of humor that humanity has in the face of disaster. I saw coping skills that ranged from drinking to prayer to eating and back to drinking while praying (for some of you). I realized that I wasn’t a stress eater but rather a restless eater. If I’m out of things to occupy my time and mind, I will snack. Plantain chips. Lots of plantain chips. 

Irma slowed us down real good. Sent friends all over the country and kept others hunkered down for the onslaught of wind and rains. I think about those who didn’t have the option of catching a flight or preparing their own homes. Those who are half a pay check away from being without. Those whose support systems are on life support. Those who work and worship and live alongside us; grinning and bearing it as best they can. 

Irma reminded me that disasters don’t check for pay scales when they come through. They don’t check for bank account balances, overlooking those with less than others. They don’t check for status (real or imagined) and wherever the category 4 wind blows is where the wind blows. Just the other week I was sending off cases of water to Harvey survivors and planning on some hurricane service projects for local Houston schools. And literally within days, I’m the one pitching a fit because my Walgreens grocery pick up came without water. I had the means but the supplies were denied me. 

An awakening from my slumber. It isn’t my first hurricane rodeo and I gather it may not be my last. But having the means and being denied is a humbling experience. Outright scary to be honest.  But to have zero means to buy a flight, buy enough gas or buy the extra food needed, that’s an entirely different matter. Businesses are wiped out. Clients are scattered about. Schools are closed. Money isn’t being made. All dominoe effects that will cause fear to grip like a steel vise around one’s heart and mind. 

Rude awakenings aren’t meant to be shoved back in the drawer in hopes that this isn’t something one has to deal with ever again. It’s a pause to take self inventory of where priorities lie. Simply stated, my love of shoes couldn’t feed me or keep me hydrated. It couldn’t pay my bills before or after the storm. It couldn’t turn the lights on. All those clear boxes neatly stacked in my garage sat pretty while my Florida room gathered water from the incessant pounding of rains in that one direction. 

Rude awakenings are meant to bring  a great spiritual and mental pause. To relinquish control to God whose omniscience saw this day and knew I was built for it. To ask questions of oneself. To lay bare one’s failures. To admit to one’s short sightedness. The last major hurricane I went through, I was a school board employee who got paid regardless of whether kids were in school or not. This time around I am a private contractor enjoying the flexibility of a new type of lifestyle. The kind where pay isn’t tied to a union contract. The kind where if I’m not there, I don’t get paid.  Real talk. 

So after I call my insurance agent about that leak, after I run to Walmart for that table top grill (cause inclement weather and outdoor grilling doesn’t go hand in hand), after I exale enough conditioned air in my recently powered home and after I share one last hurricane meal with my brother before he goes back to his overnight shift, I will be calling my CPA, an attorney and a business colleague to shore up some loose ends that Irma gave me time to think about. 

Rude awakenings should be aha moments. Don’t let them be uh-oh moments. Nothing to fear but certainly something to act upon. The world is still spinning on its axis. Question is will you be off kilter barely trying to hang on, or are you as ready as you should be next time a storm (real or otherwise) comes your way. We will never be in full control of our future. But managing what is within our power is key in addressing the rude awakenings that life throws our way. 

PS- My shoes survived the storm.