Hurricane Season :: Emotional Preparedness

Hurricane Barry sure did bring a lot of drama. Some of you may have suffered damage to your home, and from someone who has experienced several different home disasters in her lifetime, my heart goes out to you. But in addition to physical damage, there are so many emotions that come with an impending storm. With the hype from noodle maps and the already oversaturated bodies of water that surround Acadiana, I know my family was physically and emotionally prepping for 2016: Round 2. And I know from my time spent perusing social media that I wasn’t the only one having flashbacks of floodwaters.

The truth is, we live in South Louisiana. South Louisiana is prone to hurricanes, floods, and torrential downpours, but we can’t live in fear over the next big storm. So, how can we emotionally prepare ourselves for a potential disaster?

Breathe

If you feel anxiety, stress, and fear taking over, the first thing you need to do is breathe. I absolutely love this guided meditation that Lafayette Mom writer, Amanda, provided for us during Hurricane Barry. There is a lot to do, just tackle one thing at a time. It’ll be ok.

Be Fluid

Keeping the stress down calls for more than flexibility. It calls for fluidity. We assumed that we would lose power during the storm, but we did not imagine was that it would be for several days. So, we just rolled with it. We played on the front porch a lot during daylight hours, played tons of board games and dolls, took naps, read books, and, for the first time this summer, went to bed by 8 p.m. We kept telling the kids, “It is what it is, so what are we going to do about it?” Just roll with it.

Maybe fluidity means being prepared for both evacuating and hunkering down. I love this post by New Orleans Mom, Jen, to manage stress during a storm that includes short checklists to prepare for both scenarios.

Turn Off the News

Keeping the news on 24/7 can heighten anxiety. Hearing the same “impending doom” reports on repeat does nothing to calm the nerves. The news stations always give you times that they will update new information, so set an alarm for when the next update will be and keep the T.V. off until then.

Throw the Rules Out the Window

We let our kids play ALL the video games and watch Netflix until the electricity went out. We knew it was only a matter of time, and it helped them zone out and not think about the storm. It also allowed us to finish setting up sandbags, clean out the carport to squeeze our cars inside and pick up potential projectiles from around the farm. The kids also got a kick out of rollerblading inside of the house, sleeping in the living room, building forts, making crafts, rearranging furniture, and eating all of the junk food. As long as everyone was kind to each other and safe (for the most part), our normal house rules went out of the window. Maybe that’s more stressful for some, but for me, if I let loose and don’t have to correct my kids every two seconds, my anxiety goes way down.

Think About What You Know

I think Hurricane Barry was so dramatic because we had to wait so long for … what? We didn’t know. Nobody knew where he was going. Nobody knew what his rains would do to our rivers and levees. Nobody knew how strong, how hard, how fast, when he would hit, or where he would land. And those noodle maps were all out of whack. So what did we know?

I knew we had food for days. I knew where the flashlights and candles were. I knew that we had sandbags in place. I knew both of our neighbors sat higher and had generators if we had an emergency. I knew where water first got into our home last time and secured that corner of the house with the most sandbags. I knew where all of our emergency documents where in case of an emergency. I knew where the chocolate was stashed. I knew we all had clean underwear for a week. I knew where we would evacuate to should we need to. And I knew that the storm would end. I knew that we would see the sun again soon and would set to work to clean up.

Remain In Control

In my personal experience, fear, stress, and anxiety rear their ugly heads when I am no longer in control. And a storm? Well, that’s way out of my control.

So what things can we control? We can control the mood of our home. Play! Have fun! Have a dance party! Trick your mind into thinking that it’s a new adventure! When I was a kid, my hometown flooded during a random storm and our own home got 11 inches of water inside. My parents were out of town and my grandmother was taking care of us at the time. I’m sure part of her was FREAKING OUT but I just remember her humming as she swept water out of our home. She sent me outside to hop aboard my friend’s canoe as we paddled up and down the street for hours. I sensed zero anxiety or stress from her. My goal is always to communicate the seriousness of a situation effectively to my children without projecting my fear or stress. When I hold fear, stress, and anxiety back from them, it really does help to relieve it for me.

Be Prepared for the Next Storm Now

We had the hardest time finding all of our flashlights because our kids are notorious for playing with them. Put all of those flashlights, candles, batteries, and matches in one place so you don’t have to scramble all over the house next time. I finally found a use for that over-the-fridge cabinet that I can’t reach. (That means the kids can’t reach either).

Also, I love this emergency binder that Red Stick Mom, Trix, puts together for emergencies such as this. It’s a good idea to put this together before the next blip on the radar appears. It really is the ultimate checklist for important information that all needs to be kept in one place.

Know that “Every Little Thing is Gonna Be Alright”

I constantly have a playlist circling around in my brain that helps me keep my mind in a good emotional state. The two songs that I bounced back and forth between were Bob Marley’s “Every Little Thing is Gonna Be Alright” and Ryan Stevenson’s “Eye of the Storm.”

For me, it helped me to remember that we have survived floods before. Sure, they wreak a little havoc for a short time, but we have always seen rainbows after such rains. Holding on to that truth kept me from feeling overwhelmed.

Additional Resources for Storm and Flood Prep:

New Orleans Mom and Red Stick Mom have been around for a few more years than we have and their awesome writers have covered so much ground on both emotional and physical preparedness not just for our homes and ourselves, but for our children, animals, and communities. Check out the links to these great resources below!

 

Casey Hilty has been married for over 12 years to her beau, Bo, and has three kids ages 11, 9 and 6. She is a published author and just released her first book Her Children Arise - a Bible study for moms. She is an active member of The Bayou Church and leads a Bible study group for moms called MOMentum. Casey is also an artist and member of the L’Acadian Art Guild. Her family shares a passion for the people and culture of Haiti and Casey and her husband lead annual mission trips there. The Hilty Family lives on a small (itty bitty, teeny tiny) “farm” in New Iberia with their kids, dog, cats, goats, a bunch of chickens and one rooster. You can follow Casey on Instagram @caseyhilty or on her website at www.caseyhilty.com.