Growing up on the Florida Gulf Coast, Hurricanes have always been part of my life. Most people think of the year as having four seasons. Along with Gulf Coast we have three -- pre, post and Hurricane season.
Hurricane Camille in 1969 was my first experience with this type of natural disaster. Camille is still one of the most powerful category 5’s to hit the U.S. My family just happened to be visiting relatives right in the Mississippi Coast strike zone. Our evacuation in the driving rain and wind is still a vivid memory over 45 years later.
The storms themselves do not last very long, but the consequences live on for years or even generations. As an adult, my experiences have been more about Hurricane aftermath; finding ways to reach devastated Pensacola, Florida to help my family and friends recover.
Hurricanes Harvey and Irma have left many in the dire circumstances. The recovery effort will be a major transition for individuals, families, cities and nations. I thought it would be appropriate to share some tips for navigating this transition.
Lend a Hand – when devastation is all around, it is natural to focus on what is lost. One way to access positive energy is to help others. Simple kindness and assistance to others will lift spirits immediately and have a pro-longed effect.
Take Care of Physical Needs – lasting resilience and strength is enhanced with good physical conditioning. When overwhelmed, it can be tempting to push through without enough food, water or sleep. An adrenaline rush can be helpful in devastating situations, but it is not sustainable. Maintaining your health provides needed energy for the long term.
Express Emotions – traumatic events cause unexpected emotional responses. It is important to let these emotions out to help retain a sense of balance and ability to focus.
· Take time to talk to those in the trenches around you
· Share your feelings with loved ones farther away
· Keep a journal of your experience
· Laugh or cry out loud or on social media
· Stop and focus on something that makes you happy
Ask for Help – asking for help provides someone else the gift of giving. Many people want to help those effected by Hurricane aftermath, but don’t know exactly how.
One Step at a Time – we are often trained to look at the big picture, but in the aftermath of Hurricane devastation it can be too overwhelming. Focusing on what needs to happen first and taking progressive steps can be calming. Establishing a basic routine can also increase feelings of security and progress.