“Shall we wait it out or make a run for it?” I asked Sally, the teenager from China who is living with us.

“Run for it,” she encouraged. I agreed.

I grabbed my little dog, purse, and umbrella and leaped with Sally to our porch. We reached the porch in 4 seconds, just as the top third of a sixty-foot tree next door split off and crashed, totaling the car. Sally and I were pinned in the porch by heavy branches and a massive wall of leaves. Thus began our experience of Hurricane Michael. No power for 3 ½ days, the major street into our neighborhood blocked by another huge fallen tree, police tape warning us of live wires.

Hurricane damage

A disaster requires constant shifting of one’s perspective, from reactive to responsive. Here’s an example.

  1. The immediate inner voice of survival: “Get everyone to the basement and wait out the storm.”
  2. Communicate to loved ones. My husband  texted me the exact same instructions.
  3. Immediate action: batteries were put in radios and candles lit. We had plenty of water.
  4. Anchor in gratitude. Of course, the obvious was that Sally and I were not hurt, and the car is covered by insurance. The list kept growing. I was grateful that I had already done the laundry and the dishwasher had completed it’s cycle. Thank God for hot showers in a nearby gym!
  5. Ask for and receive help.  More gratitude. We took frozen food to my brother’s home and gave ourselves the luxury of eating out the first night.
  6. Plug into the support community,  stay anchored in gratitude. We are fortunate to have a wonderful faith community. We kept a dinner engagement the second night, experiencing compassion and empathy, and a beautiful sharing that shifted my perspective from fear of lack in the future to one of faith. The following morning, two friends pulled up at 7:30 with a chainsaw and liberated our front door and the smashed car.
  7. Be resourceful. Sally waited out the crisis eating her favorite Chinese food and watching her beloved Chinese television shows on her phone. She even took an Uber to another neighborhood to charge her many devices!
  8. Be cognizant of others. After 2 ½ days, the first crew of utility workers arrived from Cincinnati, Ohio. They couldn’t get to our house but promised relief the following day. The next crew arrived from Tallahassee, Florida! They had just finished restoring power in South Florida and were ready to help us. As I thanked them for their sacrifice to help us, I learned that the crew manager, had missed his daughter’s wedding the night before. Not only did he miss giving her away, but his own family was dealing with the storm damage. His camper, the temporary housing for himself and his wife while building a new house, had been heavily damaged as was his truck. Same storm. Actually, Tallahassee was without power for more than a week!
  9. Keep shiftingNow what? What are the facts? My geologist friend said that in 1980 there were 291 weather related catastrophic events. In 214, there were 904. What can we do to provide safety for others during these weather-related catastrophes? What can we as a country do to prevent these catastrophes? What are other countries doing?
  10. Research for new action steps-and so, it continues. Shifting to empowerment over and over. By the way, I found a great book: New York Times bestseller, Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming. Edited by Paul Hawken. It’s upbeat, do-able and written for people willing to devote their lives to kindness, security, and regeneration. I found my tribe. Will you join us?