Now that it’s over
Now that the hurricane is a memory and we can all return to a sense of normalcy, I can now take a moment to think. I can now say that I’ve experienced two events that I never thought I would go through in my lifetime. The first was the earth tremor that we all experienced last week, and the second was Hurricane/Tropical Storm Irene. Both of these events, as unsettling as they were caused me to take inventory of how prepared I am should a catastrophic disaster come knocking at my door. Many of us never think of anything serious happening to us. We take solace in the fact that things will continue as normal should we experience anything that would knock us off kilter for a moment. We know that tomorrow will come, the sun will rise and life will go on. Or at least, that’s what we hope for.
When the earth shifted beneath my feet, the first thing that crossed my mind after I became certain of what I experienced was what I would do if my world was severely altered. What would I do if I couldn’t reach the people that I love to find out if they were okay? Would I leave home to try to find them if the phones were down? Would I sit and wait until the troops came riding in to restore that sense of normality that I would be looking for? Would I have enough food and water to sustain me until the troops came? And the bigger question would be (as much as we may not want to think about it) what if they never arrived?
Like many of you, I watched the news almost constantly as Hurricane Irene came barreling down on the East Coast. I only felt something that resembled a sense of uneasiness when a storm cell passed overhead and the forecasters were saying that a tornado could possibly touch down in my neighborhood. I listened to the rain, heard the wind and thought for a moment, “So this is what it feels like to live in a state that has weather patterns like this all the time”. The difference is that I didn’t have a storm cellar to go to. Indeed, the only thing that I could do would be to grab some blankets, pillows and hunker down in the first floor of my apartment building. The worst part of that experience was the feeling of helplessness…that same feeling of helplessness that happened when the earth shifted beneath my feet. I knew where the blankets and pillows were. I had a couple of gallons of water stashed away, but I knew that I didn’t have enough food…at least nothing that I could get to readily in case the power went out. Admittedly, I really wasn’t ready for any type of natural disaster. Like many of you, I took solace in the thought that “tomorrow would come”.
Yesterday morning, I made my customary phone calls and text messages. Yesterday afternoon, I went for a walk to see for myself the damage that this storm had caused, and I thought “It could have been much worse”. But I also had the nagging feeling that even though it could have been worse and I was thankful that it wasn’t, what if it had been?
Do you have a plan in place in case something should happen and you can’t get to those you love? Where would you go if your home was demolished? Where would your loved ones begin to look for you if they couldn’t reach you by phone? If your home wasn’t demolished and you could stay there, would you have enough food to sustain you for a few days? Most of us don’t think about these things because we don’t want to, and we have a tendency to chuckle at those who do dismissing them as being a little eccentric. After this experience, maybe it’s not such a bad idea that when I go food shopping, to pick up an additional can of something that has a long shelf life and just stick it in the pantry. Maybe it’s not so crazy for me to tell those I love that in the event of an emergency, if you can’t make it home, go to the nearest shelter and wait it out until the worst of the danger is over. Maybe it’s not such a bad idea to have something in place that will help me get through those moments when I feel that my immediate world has tilted on its axis.
I’m not sure…but after seeing what happened, all I can seem to think about is that it could have been a lot worse. And today, I’m thankful that everything is normal and right with the world.