Surviving Hurricane Irma With A Grateful Heart

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{#floridastrong Our sweet girl offered to sweep all the leaves and branches off the drive the morning after}

Hurricane Irma.

What a bitch.

To say that we are exceptionally thankful right now is a gross understatement.

  • We have a home
  • We have no damage
  • We have power
  • We have one another

The worst of the worst was predicted for our small Gulf Coast Florida community Sunday night, and it didn’t happen. It did happen to so many people across my home state, but we were spared the worst. It certainly didn’t feel like it as we lay awake all night long Sunday watching the trees bend almost completely over in our yard thanks to the wind.

The howling.

Oh my goodness; the howling.

It’s a sound you cannot describe, and I know it wasn’t anything like what people down south listened to for days while this hurricane barreled down on our state. We were so fortunate. Six long, miserable hours of devastating wind – and we lost one tree. It uprooted, fell on our driveway, and that was that. Everything else remained intact. We never even lost power.

We are so fortunate, and we don’t take that for granted. I touched on the fact that Hurricane Irma wreaked havoc on our lives last week before she ever even made landfall in our gorgeous state, and I wanted to update you all after receiving so many emails and Instagram DMs from my readers asking how we fared.

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{The wind blew so hard and long it uprooted this tree and left it leaning about 10 feet further forward than usual before it came down}

Very, very well. It’s hard not to have a grateful heart right now even though things are nowhere near back to normal around here. Many are without power. Our kids will have 6 cancelled days of school before they go back next week (a miserable nightmare for my husband and I considering we both work from home), and few things are open. Gas is still scarce, and we are all suffering extensively from cabin fever.

But we are grateful.

And I want to share a few of the things that have been on my heart and mind this week following the devastation left behind when Irma departed.

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Our Beautiful Sense of Community

We didn’t “wake up” Monday morning. I’m willing to bet most of us were up all night long listening to the wind, watching it, and praying. I know I was listening to it so that I could keep my family safe in our safe room if the worst occurred.

But Monday morning. Oh, Monday morning. We waited for the wind to die down before heading outside to see the damage. We had a major tree down, and that was it. My husband, dad, mother, and mother-in-law had it cut up and moved off our driveway in under half an hour.

There was a tree down across our street making it impassable. One of our neighbors was out by 9 am cutting it up and moving it. I took my trusty broom down the street and did what I could to get the leftover debris off the street just because I didn’t know what else to do. Neighbors helping neighbors, people helping people, people opening their homes.

We were blessed to have power through the storm and after, and we opened our doors to our many friends and family who didn’t. We have hot meals, air conditioning, and we have hot water. But to see how many people on my Facebook feed did the same thing to people they barely know, don’t know, would never have known otherwise touched my heart.

One Nation Under God, Indivisible

I have no actual idea what is happening in the world. For the past two weeks we’ve been cut off from all things reality and focused only on things like the weather. So forgive me if I sound ignorant at the moment. Our world is nowhere near as divided as people believe. We see the worst of the worst. You’re seeing it right now.

You’re seeing people in our beautiful state looting, stealing, being arrested for breaking curfew. Believe me when I tell you this is the small, small minority. We are united. We are indivisible – the media simply chooses not to show this. Ratings, or whatever.

Men and women putting their own lives on hold to help those in need, opening their doors, paying it forward, offering water to those out restoring our power and keeping our street safe, helping those in need clean their damage and restore their sense of peace. People being kind to one another, going out of their own way to help others – that’s what Florida is all about right now. I don’t care what you see on the news; that’s our reality.

We are all frustrated; even me, and I’m not hot, sweaty, miserable, and dying for a shower. Schools are cancelled, stores are kind-of open or entirely closed, and no one has all of anything. The gas supply is still short, so those of us will full tanks are too scared to do any driving for fear of wasting our gas. Grocery stores are empty because they lost their fresh foods and perishable items. Lines at open stores, available gas stations, and restaurants with limited menus of what’s left are long and tedious. Many people are without power. The roads are a mess.

It’s a mess here even though we were so fortunate. And we have no idea when anything will open completely, when gas is something we can get in a second or less anytime we want, and we have no idea when our lives will go back to normal. We are all frustrated – but far more people are being kind, generous, and loving than not.

We are one nation under God, and we are indivisible.

My heart is overwhelmed with all the love and support I’m seeing. I can’t even. I’m emotional and chocked up at so many sweet stories and so many selfless people. My heart is so full I don’t even care that my kids are making me so crazy I can’t even remember why I had them – or that I’ll feel like this for another five days.

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My Perspective Has Shifted

Our grass is so high it makes our yard look trashy. Our mulch washed away so badly you can see the black plastic weed covering stuff under it all the way around our house. Our kids are making such a mess this week while we work and they play that I want to cry. Laundry in our house is never done despite washing three loads a day. We can’t leave the house. It’s hot. And we are bored as hell.

But that’s all right.

I don’t care how high the grass is because I still have a lawn to bitch about. I don’t care how un-mulched our landscaping is right now because my husband thought to get tons of new mulch before the storm, and we get to spend some quality time with our kids outside laying it. The mess makes me twitchy. I’m a little OCD. But at the same time, I’m so glad we still have a home in which our kids can make a mess and make me crazy.

I’m so glad we have power so we can wash 8,000 loads of laundry every week. I can’t even imagine what might happen if we let one day go by without doing those loads. I don’t mind that we can’t leave the house, because we are never home. The break has been nice, and the rest is very welcome. We are bored and I want to go shopping, but watching our kids use their imaginations and have the best time doing it has been amazing.

Perspective in this kind of situation is paramount. We can be unhappy that lines are long, nothing is open, and life is kind-of back to normal yet so weird and uncontrollable at the same time. Or we can remember to be so very, very thankful that we are alive and that no major damage occurred. After the fear in my heart for days this past weekend, I choose to be thankful. That fear was real. It was terrifying, and it was heart-stopping. It made breathing difficult. It made everything difficult. I baked everything in our kitchen over the course of three days to give me something to do that wasn’t panicking, yet I put not one bit of food in my mouth those same three days (don’t worry – I’m making up for lost time now that I have my appetite back!).

I never want to feel that way again, but I always want to feel the way I feel right now. Grateful and thankful and fortunate. I have my husband. I have my kids. I have my home. Nothing else really seems to matter much at this point.

(But if my lawn company is reading this, I’ll double your rate this week if you put me first on your list when you finally have fuel again….just a thought).

To those who did suffer during this hurricane, my heart cries for you. To those complaining about the long lines and the lack of gas as life slowly gets back to normal, well, suck it up. You’re alive and if you’ve got time to bitch, you probably didn’t suffer much during this storm. So I’ll say it again – suck it up and quit being whiny. We all have our kids home this week, and their whining is all we can take. Yours is unnecessary.

To the linemen, the police officers, the doctors, the medics, the ambulance drivers, the firemen and women, and all the other people who are out working to make sure our spoiled lives go back to normal as quickly as possible; THANK YOU.

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