September 10, 2018. 55 days. That’s how long it’s been since my home was the way I left it when I closed the door, turned the lock, and drove away. Since then it’s been a whirlwind of evacuation, rising flood waters, a return home, insurance struggles, demo, and the beginnings of a rebuild. I’ll spare you the details of all the insanity, and if you really want to know, send me a message. I’ll give you all the details of the walls going up, picking flooring, and late night mudding and taping. It’s all great fun.
For many people in our town, Hurricane Florence is long in the rear view, not to be thought about again until it pops up on their Facebook memories. For even more people, Hurricane Florence is the first thing they think about when they wake up, and the last thing they think of before bed. It’s hard to forget her. There’s constant reminder of her presence: debris on the road, moldy rooms in the house, the full parking lot at Lowe’s. Many of us have been reminded of Flo’s presence through the arrival of contractors, while others are reminded by the lack of availability of those contractors that are backed up fixing the homes of others. Little things like your regular coffee cup, your couch, and even sleeping in your own bed seem a distant memory. Some days. Life stinks.
Before each storm, you’ll see your social media walls filled with more hurricane preparation tips than you’ll ever use in a lifetime. What you don’t see afterwards are the survival tips for the aftermath. Frankly, why would you? Most of the time the storm comes, you see devastation in photos, but it doesn’t happen to you. Hopefully, you’re one of those people. Unfortunately, you may not be. Maybe someone read this article and thought you’d find it helpful. If that’s you, whoever you are, know you’re loved and being prayed for daily, as I walk through this struggle with you. Whether it’s Hurricane Florence, Matthew, or any other named storm in the future.
In the meantime, I’d like to offer my own Post Hurricane Survival Tips.
1. Start a new routine ASAP
I want to preface this by reminding you that your new routine may be different from your old routine. Don’t go in with the expectations of making everything exactly how it was before. You’ll end up disappointing yourself when things aren’t working how they did before. But, you’ve gotta get that routine going fast. It helps. I promise. Whether it’s something simple like making sure you have coffee everyday, sitting on a pile of drywall and surrounded by dust, or taking a weekly bubble bath in your neighbors tub, get that routine and create a new “normal.”
2. Say “yes” to help.
This moment of recovery is not a time for pride. Don’t be afraid to accept help. Whether it’s an offer to walk your dogs, fix your roof, or buy you dinner, accept the help. When you’re back on your feet, pay it forward to someone else that needs your help, but for now, be glad for the offers and the love. A wise woman once reminded me that sometimes the help isn’t just for you, but for the people helping you. And I believe it. Besides, gutting your home or going through contractors is exhausting. Those free meals come in handy when you are exhausted. Bonus tip: keep a log somewhere of who helped you and what they did. When you’re all set, a thank you card with a handwritten note makes everyone feel great and shows your appreciation.
3. Turn to God
This seems obvious, I know. But seriously, it’s imperative. When we get busy we tend to fall down on our simple things like Bible readings and prayer life. Now more than ever, you need the Lord as you get through the figurative and literal storm in your life. Be sure to find fellowship with believers, engage in Bible study, tithe and whatever else you do to connect to God. I promise you’ll be better for it.
4. Do something that helps you keep your sanity.
What’s your hobby? Sewing, running, underwater basket weaving? What we it is, find a way to do what keeps you sane. You need that. For me, waking up early, despite the hurricane struggles, and getting a run in has helped me clear my mind, shut off the crazy, and forget for a few moments what life is really like. Those few moments of bliss have helped me regain what ounce of sanity I have left.
5. Remind yourself this isn’t forever.
It’s hard to believe when you’re in the thick of it, but this does end. People have seen devastation and recovery for centuries. It will take time, I’m not going to sugar coat and say it’ll be super fast. But you’ll come out the other side safe and sound. The Lord has carried you through many trials and this is no different.