Safe and dry in our Denver hotel room, DC and I watched, along with the rest of the country, Hurricane Irma, like a woman scorned, carve her destruction up the Sunshine State. Our heads shook like weather vanes as we tried to make sense of the wreckage. Meanwhile, we surfed the wild waves of our emotions — storm surges of relief, worry and guilt.
Disasters like this, the kind that literally hit home, not only remind us that terra isn’t always firma, but also how much we take for granted, like an intact roof over our heads, dry floors, the power to charge our phones, and the highly underrated comfort of routine. If anything good was coming of this, it was that everyone in America stopped, if only momentarily, to consider how much home matters.
Seeing pictures of people standing in water to their knees, or staring numbly at a mound of rubble where their home once was, makes us rightly put ourselves in their sodden shoes: What if that were my home?
In the aftermath of disaster, those affected often ask, “Now what?” Here are some tips:
— Get your groove back. Having your daily routine disrupted is far more disconcerting than most people realize. Daily routines, such as taking a shower, making coffee, and driving to work, give life meaning, say psychologists. A feeling of coherence comes from having routines. That day-to-day sameness forms a sort of bedrock on which the rest of our life relies.
— Find the normal. Granted, it’s hard to get back to normal when the power is down, but the more you can recreate your patterns, and stick with them the more normal you will feel. Even if you can’t stay in your home, take with you your favorite coffee cup and pillow.
Appreciate what’s left.
— Accept and give help.
— Connect with those you love. The silver lining in a disaster may be that friends and family members whom you don’t stay in touch with reconnect. You find and secure your support network.