"There’s lots of things you learn (and remember) when a natural disaster strikes." That's what I posted at 2:30 a.m. on Aug. 31, 2011, from my childhood home on Long Island, where Hurricane Irene made its mark.
The anniversary of that ordeal approaches as I consider my chances of having to go at it again, only this time in the path of Isaac, tucked inside my child's childhood home in Greater Brandon.
From the suburbs of Long Island to the suburbs of Tampa Bay, I am facing the prospect of tackling a second hurricane in one year. Last year I posted Dispatches From Long Island, and the last one involved these 25 lessons learned from Hurricane Irene:
- Will power overshadows limitations and exhaustion.
- Determined labor is the best antidote to worry.
- Family and friends come through in a pinch when you need them the most.
- Strangers become friends.
- Old friends are just a phone call away.
- You can live a day (or two) without the Internet.
- A good Italian meal with lots of laughter around the dinner table is a great way to spend the eve before the storm.
- It is a wise decision to buy weather-proof boots.
- It doesn’t hurt to have a spare wet-vac.
- Lift with your legs.
- People need as much advice after the storm as they did before — and maybe even more — but it needs to be place-specific. (It’s crucial to know, for example, if your town collects curbside yard waste of any size without restrictions.)
- Not losing power is a blessing.
- It pays to have kept your trees trimmed (if you don’t, Mother Nature will do it for you).
- Surveying the damages to prioritize a plan is an essential first step.
- Preparation is stressful and cleanup is daunting, so permit yourself, if necessary, to go off for a moment to have a quiet, seconds-long breakdown that only you will witness. (Okay, yell, if you have to.)
- You can do a lot more, lift a lot more, than you ever thought you could (multi-tasking is essential).
- You buy peanut butter even though you don’t like it.
- Take it one step at a time; with every task accomplished, however small, you raise your level of confidence that all will be right again soon (even if it won’t be that soon).
- It’s weird to drive without traffic lights.
- Staying upbeat is half the battle, and it’s easier to do the more you take to the field.
- Laughter helps.
- Crickets and chainsaws at night make for an interesting sound combination.
- It’s humbling to know that for every hardship you endure someone has suffered more.
- There’s people out there who help more than they ask for help themselves.
For good measure (and for out-of-towners who returned to childhood homes to help out during the storm) here’s the most important lesson of all:
25. Yes, you can go home again, and especially when it matters the most.