Ian’s Aftermath (Episode 271)
It's officially a week after Hurricane Ian, and we've picked up the rubble and are moving forward...and recognizing this is a new season for many who were in the path of Hurricane Ian. Ian's aftermath has rocked many, and continued on beyond the actual hurricane.
Headed to Cleanup
On Friday, Nathan, Clara and Elle headed up to Venice, Florida to our house there to assess the damages in person. Jules and I stayed back, as I had a new coaching client plus a sick kitty (Jasper is fine now) to navigate. All we had was preliminary pictures of our house sent by our neighbor - no broken windows or flooding...so far, so good...
As soon as they got there, they set to work with cleanup. It looked like someone took a machete to our plumeria and flagpole. Our banana trees were whipped to shreds, and our fence completely came up.
Yet, thankfully, all the fencing was there (we now realize why Floridians dig 3' deep and put cement in their fencepost holes)!
Our lanai door somehow flew open (even though it was locked) - yet it only opened a few inches, and only leaves blew inside - no water!
All in all, our place was in great shape. Nathan and girls spent 7 hours cleaning up and putting our yard back together, and assessing and helping neighbors with theirs.
Nathan and another neighbor put tarps over a roof for another out-of-town neighbor, and spent the day full of adrenaline as they worked triage for all that needed to be handled quickly on the block, and they accomplished a ton.
They made it to my parents that night to recover at a place with power and water for the night before they came back down to the Keys.
That night, at 3am, Nathan and I both got phone calls with a message from Sarasota County:
"Possible levee break in area of Hidden River/Myakka Valley with the potential of 15ft of flood water residents are urged to shelter in place if it is safe to do so as exit routes and roadways maybe impassable.'
Yes, the levee broke. And the floodwaters came. It was south of our place, in areas we know well. Three of our favorite campgrounds are completely flooded. What was supposed to be a five hour drive back to the Keys stretched into over ten hours. With so much flooding and road closures, it was quite the journey back, and so jarring to see all the destruction.
When you face a disaster like the Ian aftermath, you do what you can. It's an adrenaline rush of simply being in survival mode and seeing what needs to be done to survive.
And, it's a time that neighbors step up and start to see each other, as all they have is thrown all over the place. No longer is each house separated by walls - the walls have literally been torn down in many communities as people come face to face with all they have for everyone to see.
We have a mixed bag of people here in Florida, and many different perspectives on life. Some live here full-time, and others are the "snowbirds"...many of which were already gone and desperately trying to get any idea of how their house has fared.
And it was beautiful to see how many people went above and beyond to reach out to each other, connecting on Nextdoor and offering to scope houses for each other, send pictures, and help out.
The Hurricanes Of Our Life
There are times we all have "hurricanes" in our lives. These are the times we don't purposely ask for that turn us upside down, like losing a job, divorce, a death...
It's at these points we can choose to stare and reminisce about the destruction that took place - the pain, sadness, anger, etc and just wallow in it. We can get lost in the grief over what was or what should have been.
Or, we can look at what it makes possible. What could today bring you with the experiences you have now?
It's easy to get lost in the destruction and not see the hope. As Nathan and the girls drove for ten hours hitting roadblocks, flooding, trees down and houses completely destroyed, it could be easy to lose yourself in the sadness and feel hopeless.
Yet look at nature. This isn't the first hurricane to hit Florida. In 1935, the Labor Day hurricane was the most historic storm to hit landfall on record, and down here in the Keys so much was completely obliterated. Yet here we stand today. It grew back. They rebuild. And life flourished again.
When you do a controlled fire for a forest, it makes way for new growth, and what may seem like devastation may revitalize a forest and make space for so much more than what was there before.
What can you move into? What is new and can be created from where you are with what you know now?
Don't Get Stuck
We can get stuck in the ways things are. Sometimes we can get trapped in complaining, and it takes a catastrophe out of your control to actually make a change you really needed in your life.
There is always opportunity for new growth and life wherever it is fostered. Nature is tenacious and perseveres. A fire or flood doesn't depress the plants so much they have no desire to sprout - they keep on sprouting, and build back the earth.
Sometimes we have a forced reset, and, while it's more jarring than actually choosing to shift on your own, it can be what's needed to move you forward.
Pay attention to the dog and the nail. Are you the dog, simply whining about what you don't like but unwilling to make the move to something different?
Reframe Your Thinking
Look at how you might want to shift your perspective. I recently read on a website for body positivity that instead of looking at things as "weight loss", you look at "life gain". I love that. It may be the same thing, yet a different approach. What seems more inspiring to move forward?
Think about what is weighing you down in your life, and what your perspective is on it. This has been a time here in Florida where there is way more bipartisanship as people stop bickering over their differences and start working to clean up the same state they all call home.
It's seeing the noisy neighbor you never talked to as a human being who needs a place to shower since their home still has no water. It's seeing all the traffic and understanding that the flooded roads aren't just delaying you, but cutting others off from their homes and their work.
What can you shift your perspective on and see in another way - maybe a little more connected and human vs. fighting over the differences between each other, or the frustrations on what are not going your way?
It can be hard to know how to best help - and I know not everyone can just toss money as the answer. There are many in the heart of the Ian aftermath who are banding together to help each other out. Check out GoFundMe - here is the direct search for Hurricane Ian campaigns. Consider not only the financial donation - maybe you find a family who could also use that box of clothes you were going to consign, or other household goods you can spare.
Like Mother Teresa says, "if you can't feed a hundred people, just feed one." Find the one, and start there.
And for you - what needs to be readjusted, or reprioritized? Is it time that you snapped into reality so you see what's truly important? What if Hurricane Ian totaled your home this week? What would change for you? What would you hold onto, and what would you be willing to let go of?
As you're moving forward, pay attention to what you're sitting in this week - what are you surrounding yourself with? Are you lost in negativity about what is not in your control? Or sitting on a nail? How are you creating a better life vs. hoping it's dumped in your lap?
See and understand and be grateful for the impact others have on your life - both positive and negative. While not every interaction may have been beautiful, it's gotten you to here. And here is where you get to create moving forward, and you get to choose how that's going to be.