I have been avoiding the news for well over a year. Rarely has there been anything truly good reported and if exposed to the news, it usually leaves me feeling terrible about the world.
Until Hurricane Hermine.
I started watching the news and paying attention. Not just to the storm, but to what was happening in my community. I honestly don’t know if Hurricane Hermine was still technically a hurricane when it officially “landed” in our city, but if it was downgraded to a tropical storm, I’ve never seen one like it.
I’ve been a Tallahassee Lassie for most of my life. I’ve seen several tropical storms. Hermine was something different. The wind made it feel as though the walls of our house were moving, bending in and out with the changes in pressure. The lightning, usually with warm yellowy or pink tones, had an icy blue quality. Brighter than any strobe light I’ve ever seen. The trees cracking and falling were eerie because I couldn’t see them out the window into the darkness. The lightning, which normally would have allowed me to see for a moment, only blinded me so that I could see only spots.
The storm lasted a few hours and then it was over. The aftermath however, was full of lessons that have affirmed my faith in humanity. Here is some of what I noticed and a few tidbits I learned.
When city workers are trying to get the power back on, a handful of neighbors with a chainsaw can work together to make roads passable. This is important if people need food, to check on elderly relatives, or even to get to the hospital.
Kids are excited to help and when given a little instruction and examples, they will dive right in. Ayla and Jude were totally focused and serious about clearing the tree out of the road that blocked the way to Nana’s.
Let your kid wear his Hulk hands and he is suddenly ten times stronger than he thought he was. Perfect for pulling tree limbs.
Hurricanes are good for the economy. When the power goes out people will leave the ranch in search of coffee, food, water, air conditioning. They will buy generators or even stay in hotels. They will head to open stores to purchase games and toys to keep the kids busy.
People with small kids have it tough. So do people with pets. People with small kids and pets perhaps look the most distraught of all.
A tree in the yard does not necessarily have to be cleaned up right away. Trees that landed on, or in, houses, get top priority.
People who did not lose power or who had generators will open their doors to people who do not have power. It is a beautiful thing.
When the local animal rescue center puts out the word that they need help taking care of injured animals, people will turn up to help. By the dozens.
Neighbors will smile at each other and say hello. We will check in with one another, assessing damage and helping where needed.
And last but not least, I learned that if anything stronger than a category 1 hurricane heads to Tallahassee, I will be leaving town. Driving in the opposite direction and coming home right after the storm passes. The sound of breaking trees was just too scary for me. I’m all about helping my neighbors and don’t want to ever miss out on that part, but actually sitting through the storm…well. That I can live without.
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Sara Marchessault is a writer, publisher, teacher, and mom who is on a mission to increase joy on the planet. Through the practice of self-reflection, we become aware of what brings us joy and what does not, and we make choices to move forward or stand still. Journal writing is a powerful reflection tool that can help any of us move forward, even in the darkest of times. To learn more about Sara and her work in the world, please visit saramarchessault.com.