As I write this post, I am preparing our farm and home for a storm. In this case, it is a most unwelcome ‘visitor’ who is angrily whirling her way towards us.
We have been (not so) affectionately calling her ‘Aunt Laura’. You know. That one relative that you dread coming to visit. The one who storms in, tries to take over, criticizes everything, and then leaves a disaster in her wake.
In this case, Aunt Laura’s proper name is Hurricane Laura. Right this moment, she is terrorizing the Gulf of Mexico, and gaining force as she rips through southeast Texas and the coast of Louisiana.
The biggest threat is the storm surge, with predictions of water rising the equivalent of a two-story building. As of now, she is a Category 4, but by the time she reaches us, she may lose some steam and downgrade to a Category 1.
Hopefully, she will get tired before she reaches us, and only be a Tropical Storm. But the projection is she may have enough strength to be a Category 2. And with all of that, we still have the threat of tornados as a spin-off.
Prior to her knocking on our back door, we have done all we know to do. We have prepared for the worst, but are praying for the best. By Friday morning, we will know the full extent of the storm, and any damage she leaves behind.
When ‘Aunt Laura’ comes to visit, we all know what we need to do to get ready. But the bigger question is, what do we do after she leaves?
In the Aftermath of a Storm
In severe storm cases such as hurricanes and other natural disasters, we are often left feeling helpless.
In the worse-case scenarios, our own homes have been demolished. Some are more than fortunate by only having a few limbs to clean up. Either way, there is work to be done.
As soon as the weather clears, there are crews working around the clock to repair the damage. First responders are scouring the area to offer immediate medical care to prepare for transport.
In South Louisiana, there is a group of volunteers called ‘The Cajun Navy’. These men and women are out in their personal boats either rescuing folks who are stranded, or earmarking the ones that need medical attention.
Electrical companies have a caravan of trucks who are diligently working to restore power. Road crews have a supply of chainsaws to remove trees and limbs to make roads passable again. And the police and fire department are doing everything they can to put out fires and prevent looting and even more crime.
So, what can we, as individuals, do to help? In reality, there are any number of ways we can pitch in. However, there are also ways you can cause more harm than good. Before you jump in as a Good Samaritan, think these things through, first.
What NOT To Do after a Storm
I know our curiosity often gets the best of us. After all, we are only human. But curiosity of the extent of storm damage can be harmful – not only to you, but also to the crews who are working to restore power and provide medical attention.
Please do not get out and ride the roads, just to see what there is to see.
DO NOT get near any downed power lines! Even if you ‘think’ it’s safe, it is not. Call the power company immediately to report it, and stay clear.
Keep in mind that water conducts electricity. Any puddles, standing water or wet grass and pavement near a downed power line can still cause harm or death.
Do not drive or walk around in high water. If you absolutely must (such as to rescue a person or livestock), please wear waders, a life jacket and protective gloves.
Be sure you have help near by. If at all possible, try to reach them in a boat first, before getting in the water.
Flood waters can not only contain snakes and other water creatures, but also bacteria. That isn’t just rain water – it is a combination of any water source around, including septic tanks.
And no. I wouldn’t go fishing in it, either. Even if you do see a prize-winning Bass swim by.
What You Can Do
Pray. And keep praying. I have a sign on my wall that says, “Don’t tell God how big your storm is. Tell your storm how BIG your God is!”
God already knows about the storm, long before it is even headed your way. Learn to trust in Him to help you through it, no matter how bad things get.
This is true no matter what type of storm you are going through. Whether it is ‘Aunt Laura’, or a figurative storm, He knows. He cares. He will be there for you.
Establish a Neighborhood work crew before the storm. Ask other neighbors if they are willing to help do minor clean up. See if they have chainsaws and other tools to help make clearing storm damage easier.
Confirm with all of them that this work crew is for your neighborhood ONLY, and for jobs that they can handle – tarping a damaged roof; cutting up and clearing limbs and smaller trees, boarding up broken windows, etc.
This will free up the other work crews to work for the assistance of the community as a whole. Just make sure everyone works safely, and is wearing the proper attire – gloves, safety glasses, rubber (or sturdy) boots, etc.
Establish a Phone Tree. Have one person who can be the go-to person to report any damage. This will be the person who will coordinate with the head of the work crew. Assign one or two others to contact each neighbor to see what they need.
What You Can Do as an Individual
Start baking. Often, the official work crews, as well as the neighborhood crews, put in a lot of time and effort to help repair storm damage. Having food and drink available will keep them fed and hydrated.
In my case, I am working today to bake a few items to give to the Social Springs Baptist Church group, who will be providing meals for first responders and work crews.
These women (and men) work tirelessly (individually and as a group) during times of storms to provide for others around them.
(If I was a storm, I do believe I would think twice about invading our area. These folks are a group to be reckoned with, and it would be in Aunt Laura’s best interest to just disappear before she encounters a Force larger than her!)
Offer Hospitality to those whose homes are unlivable. If you have the space, allow them to have a safe place to sleep. If they are able to stay in their home, but are without water or power, prepare meals to take to them, or invite them to eat with your family.
Be a shoulder to cry on. You may not be able to fix what the storm has damaged, but you can be available to listen and console. Sometimes we know there is work to be done, but we need to have a way to vent our grief.
Storms don’t just damage property. Somedays they damage our hearts.
Are You Prepared?
Are you ready for a visit from ‘Aunt Laura’? We are. There is plenty of gasoline for the generators, and the tools are standing by, ready to go to work.
My house smells like a bakery, and with the first drop of rain my livestock is ready to be moved to safety.
Did somebody say ‘storm’? Well, Aunt Laura, let the world know. I am rescinding my hospitality to you. Maybe it’s time you settle down, and dry up. And if you don’t, no worries. I am ready for you. And God has my back.