I live in the Houston, Texas, area, and we took a direct hit from Hurricane Ike about 10 days ago. Although my husband and I were fortunate in that our home suffered little damage, we did spend more than a week waiting for the power to come back on. You do not realize how dependent you are on modern conveniences until you are forced to go without them for a while. Internet access, power for computers, televisions and other devices, air conditioning and even ice soon seemed like luxuries.
I learned a few things this week that I wanted to share with you. As I thought about these lessons, I realized that they would be helpful even when not facing a disaster.
Be prepared. You could tell who had not stocked up on non-perishables and filled their gas tanks before the storm. They were the ones frantically searching for needed items and standing in long, long lines once the storm passed. Think about what you will need for the future, and what you may need in a disaster, and make sure you have it on hand.
Have a plan. Know what you are going to do, before and after a disaster or other emergency. In addition to buying needed supplies, I backed up my computers and found safe storage places for the equipment and backups so that I could quickly resume business. It was a near certainty that we would lose power, perhaps for days, so I thought about what I would do while waiting for the power to come back.
Be willing to accept help. I tend to be very self-sufficient, and hesitant about asking for help or even accepting it when it is offered. This is not a virtue. I still believe that it is important to be able to stand on your own two feet, but I have a better understanding that being willing to accept help from others can help you to achieve much more than you can do on your own.
Pay it forward. Neighbors who had power offered me access to their air conditioning and wireless Internet and gave us ice. Our next door neighbor allowed us to plug a couple of things into their generator. A friend brought ice and charged my laptop. She even offered us a place to stay if our home got too hot and uncomfortable. Although I can not directly repay the people who helped me by doing for them what they did for me, I can show my appreciation to them and I can help others who are still without power or need other assistance. Look for ways to pay the kindnesses shown to you forward and pass them on to others.
If you were affected by Hurricane Ike, I hope you are on your way back to normal life. When you can, do something to help friends and neighbors who are still struggling to recover. Even if you were not affected by Ike, keep these lessons in mind to take care of yourself and others.