I have struggled to write this blog. I opened my laptop several times but what spilled out onto the page was NOT me or my typical character. Hurricane recovery is not for the faint of heart. I often get asked, how are you doing? How is your family? Is your house back to normal? In short, I am well, most days. Our family is well, most days. And our house repair has not even started yet. We have signed a contract for a new roof that will hopefully be put on by March. Until then, we are living in our home hoping the tarps on the roof will keep us dry. After the roof is replaced we will then be able to begin on the interior repairs which will include removing most of our ceilings and some of our walls. We are a long way from our home being back to normal. Writing this blog has been difficult because Pineapple Courage is about being courageous, staying positive through difficult situations and how to pull yourself out of negativity when you are starting to live there. I have struggled with these principles since September 28th, feeling a rollercoaster of emotions – sadness, gratitude, frustration and anger. This blog is also not about hurricanes so I questioned continuing to write about our personal situation. However, our experience with the hurricane and recovery has definitely taken courage, positivity and dragging ourselves out of negativity so I’m going to write about it in hope that it will help one of you whether you’re going through a hurricane or some other life event that completely disrupts your livelihood.
This may sound strange but I have found that life post-hurricane reflects the grief cycle. This feels true because I have felt loss, both initially and long term. There is the loss of security as you ride out the storm, not knowing what will be on the other end. Then you may have loss of power, water, sewer, phones and home based services. Even when these things return, there is damage to your home and a loss of control over when it will be repaired. Add this to the uncertainty of the insurance claim process and it is enough to make anyone angry and depressed. When I searched the grief cycle online the image below caught my attention. I definitely feel more like the experience on the right where there is a lot of bouncing around of emotions. In many ways, my experience has felt like an emotional roller coaster.
This emotional roller coaster is not fun but I am getting better at controlling my emotional response to the highs and lows. In order to achieve this, I have found myself coming back to the same principles I believe in every day…
Maintain Positive Assumptions About People – This belief is important when dealing with the insurance company, especially when there is no communication for weeks. It is also important with contractors, garbage pick up and other services that just can’t keep up with the huge influx of claims, estimate requests and literal garbage piled up on the street. Like any other situation in life, if you can go into conversations and interactions believing the other person isn’t out to get you, trying to take advantage of you, or is lazy, you’ll get a lot further.
Learn From Your Shortcomings – Our house structure, made of concrete block, survived the storm. Our shortcomings were a 20 year old roof that failed and perforated soffits that blew out under the wind pressure allowing wind driven water into the rafters of our home. A marina only a couple miles away from our house clocked the highest winds during Hurricane Ian at 208 mph! Knowing these shortcomings, we are investing in our home to do all we can to protect ourselves in the future. This includes upgrading to a metal roof, installing spray foam insulation, non-perforated soffits and hurricane impact windows. Should we have another Cat 5 storm (that is what it actually was), our home should perform better and hopefully we can avoid repeating our current situation.
Lean On Your Network – It is amazing to me how we as a community are helping each other out. We are sharing tools, personal contacts, time and labor. I can’t believe how easy it has been to meet people and share in this community. We have received help cleaning up our yard, securing tarps to our roof and repairing our pool cage. We also have lended tools and assisted in repairs at other people’s homes. When you need help, don’t be afraid to ask for it! It is ok to be vulnerable and the relationships built in difficult situations will last a lifetime.
Stop to Celebrate – While there hasn’t been a lot to celebrate on the hurricane or repair front yet, there are some milestones happening in our life. Our daughter is a senior and she is applying for colleges. The application and college prep process has been a bit stressful without internet for a month and cancellation of events linked to them but she got through it. This last month she received word of admission from two colleges along with scholarships. Even though we are going through a challenging situation, we must stop to celebrate our accomplishments. I am so proud of how hard she has worked both inside and outside of the classroom. Even after the hurricane she started to volunteer for a parrot rescue organization because they were left short with people impacted from the storm. She gets up and out of the house by 7:15am every Saturday and Sunday to volunteer. What 17 year old does that?? All of her hard work is paying off and we’re excited!
Focus on Gratitude – When I feel overwhelmed with the roller coaster I make an effort to turn my thoughts to gratitude. In the grand scheme of things, we are much better off than many in our community who lost everything. Homes have been declared condemned or uninhabitable until they can be rebuilt. Some families had to relocate, including where their kids could go to school. I am grateful to still be able to live in this area. Yes, we have the chance of being hit by another hurricane, but in general we love living here. Mother Nature has a wonderful way of helping me to see the beauty of life, even in the wreckage of a hurricane. The double rainbow in the photo for this blog post was taken from our backyard after a rain shower. I must focus on the rainbow and not the roller coaster.
I hope this blog was a worthwhile read for you. This one is a bit of therapy for me. Thank you for reading and supporting my writing. I appreciate the support, especially now.