Paul's Heart

Life As A Dad, And A Survivor

After Florence – Been There Done That

It is hard to fathom having to deal with such a severe weather event for as long of a period of time, even when it is scattered across many states as it progresses.  But Hurricane Florence has proven to be even more extreme than that, practically hovering over the states of North and South Carolinas for over three days already.  The media footage as well as photos posted on social media are nothing less than powerful to see.  And if you have ever gone through an initial impact of a hurricane, within the path of the eye of the hurricane or not, it is not an experience you will ever forget.

“Paul’s Heart” crosses over many ways between my world of cancer, adoption, medical rights, family, and such.  And right now, many of my fellow cancer survivors, as well as long time friends, are dealing with Florence right now, and will for some time.  But if there is one thing my fellow cancer survivors rely on me for, it is for my encouragement that I can provide based on what I have been through, and to believe, that things will get better.  More importantly, it will take time.  There is no such thing as an “overnight” cure.

By now, the preparation for the storm is long over, from evacuations to just hunkering down.  People are now in the “enduring” stage.  This is a frightening enough stage because most likely, many are without power.  And without any kind of “cell” coverage, may not know the timeline of when this storm will eventually be done.

My hopes, are that everyone who remained, are surrounded by friends and family, supporting each other.  It is during this time that we really appreciate the conveniences of home, because for us, we no longer have those conveniences.  During the storm, you rely on your resources that you gathered to get through the storm.  No cooking.  No watching TV.  No light once darkness comes.

The hardest part will be yet to come however, and that is when the storm has passed.  The city or town you have always known has been decimated.  You now truly know what it is like to start from the beginning.  The good part about this, is that you can see the daily progress being made in recovery efforts.  Patience will be tested as you wait for electricity, shelves to be stocked in grocery stores for even the most necessary items such as ice, water, and bread, but remember, perishable items in stores will have to be replaced and it will take time to restore that normalcy.  And of course, the clean up will be immense.

But safety must still remain your focus.  Water will not be safe as it is likely water treatment facilities have been compromised with bacteria laden sewage from the immense flooding.  Power lines will still be submerged.  With the ground so saturated, it will take nothing for more trees to fall with even the slightest breeze.  Of course there will be that curiosity to get out and look at the destruction.  But it is completely different once the sun has set, and there is no lighting from buildings and streets to guide you.  And forget about being able to see water on the roadway as you approach a flooded situation.

There will also be those who evacuated.  It may be days, or even weeks before you can return, or even be allowed to return.  But you need to understand, just as I warned many of my friends last year, though their homes may have been spared, or had minor damage, there was nothing here in the immediate aftermath for them.  We no longer had luxuries.  Hardly anything was open for business and anything that was able to open, was mobbed as soon as word got out.

Just as those of us got the gradual improvements being made from nothing, it is a different story for those who return some time after the storm has passed.  The shock of the damage seen can be overwhelming.

The important thing following an event like this, whether you stayed or evacuated, is to have patience with each other.  First responders will do all they can.  Local governments will do everything they possibly can to establish some sort of normalcy.  Clean up will take a long time, months, many months.  And damage, that will take a long time to repair, as my building itself is only now having its roof repaired from Irma last year.  Life will return to a sense of normal activity.  But going through a storm like this one, or others, will always leave you with an appreciation for what you have, and what is important to you.

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