You can never be truly prepared for a blow from Mother Nature, but I’ve learned some things since our tragedy hit six months ago that I will pass along:
- Pay attention to weather alerts.
This is especially true if you live in areas prone to crazy storms and tornadoes. I shudder to think what would have happened had we not been watching the news or if we ignored the warnings. If you are driving in unfamiliar areas and the weather looks iffy, tune in to a local radio station just in case. The bulk of the fatalities in our tornado were people in cars on the highway.
- Let someone not in the area know where you are sheltering.
When tragedy hits, lines of communication are down, and phones quickly drain their batteries. If someone knows where you are, they can send in help if needed. Even a simple post on social media that you are taking cover and where, might be what gets you rescued if you need it.
- SHOES are super-duper important!
This is one of those you wouldn’t necessarily think about. Have everyone put on shoes. Even if it is the middle of the night and you are in your PJs. I used to think my dad was just over-protective when he said that, but turns out father knows best! After our house was hit, there was glass, nails, bits of brick, building materials and you name it EVERYWHERE. Shoes are a must!
- Grab your Drivers License/ID, credit cards, etc.
Our neighborhood was put on lockdown to keep looters out, and we had to show ID to get back in to our house. You also don’t really want to think it might be out there somewhere for someone to scoop up and use. I mean, my daughter’s ukulele was found a mile away from our house. And I don’t know about you, but the thought of having to go to the DMV to get another license when you are dealing with the fallout of a tragedy already is pretty frightening!
- Insurance is not optional.
I repeat, insurance is not optional. Whether is is homeowner’s insurance, renter’s insurance, or auto insurance. I used to think when I paid off my car it would be great because I could drop down to liability only insurance — cheaper, right? I have so many neighbors who did just that and poof, their car is totaled by a tornado. If you have enough money in the bank to just replace a vehicle, then drop that insurance by all means, but I certainly don’t. Also with regard to homeowner’s policies — READ the policy. Understand what it covers. Don’t just go for the cheapest, and don’t drop coverage limits to lower your monthly payments. The last thing you want is for your insurance to tell you you don’t have enough to cover the damage. Review your policies regularly as you make updates. I know insurance is one of those things you pay for and wonder why, but if you need it, you will be glad you kept up with it!
- Let people help!
After a tragedy happens, your friends and family and community and even strangers will offer help. They are watching from the sidelines as you go through this and they ache for you. They often don’t know what to do for you. It’s ok to tell them what you need, or what you don’t need. And if you aren’t sure what you need, tell them that too! People want to help you – let them bring a meal by so you don’t have to cook, or have them help haul debris away, or accept the bag of clothing they put together for your kids. This was incredibly hard for me – and has probably changed me the most in this process.
- Give yourself LOTS of grace.
I’m still working on this one. I beat myself up when I’m emotional about our situation. When I just can’t make another decision and shut down. When I can’t drag myself out of bed because I’m just drained. When I rail at Mother Nature and get anxious about pending weather. When I remember yet another item that we lost and I have to open that darn insurance spreadsheet again. When I yell at the kids even though I know they are only acting up because their world is topsy turvy too. I feel like I should be stronger. Yet I wonder how in the heck I’ve gotten through it all. If not by strength, then what? Whether you get through crying or screaming or just in a haze, what matters is you are getting through. At the end of the day, you made it. One more day through this mess. Give yourself credit. In the words of my supporters: You Got This!
Anything you would add to this list?