Hurricanes are weird. They can predict their coming days in advance, so you have plenty of time to prepare, and plenty of time to worry.
I don’t live in a Hurricane zone, but my best friend Monika does. She and her family were right in the predicted path of Hurricane Irma and it sure looked like they were going to be in deep trouble.
This post is about the lifeline I helped provide to Monika while she prepared and lived through the most dangerously threatening hurricane Florida has seen in a long, long time. She asked me to write this to help other people understand just how vital their remote assistance can be in times of impending disaster.
When Monika first called me crying saying she had a Cat 4 hurricane headed her way and their house was only rated for Cat 3 winds or lower, my first impulse was to try to deny this was really happening. I had already agreed to be her out of area contact and felt a sense of responsibility I wasn’t sure I was ready for. Over the next day or so, she sent me photos of her kids’ clothes with both hers and my number written on the inside of them. Visions of her children getting whisked away in a tornado and me being called to help identify the bodies were disturbing to say the least. We talked about her will, and her legacy to her children should she not make it through the storm. These are the sort of moments you don’t want to have to think about, until you realize that you must.
Imagine for a moment that your death could be imminent, but that your chance of survival could be much higher if you take the right precautions. You need to focus on taking those precautions, and let someone else worry about the other stuff. My job was to deal with the other stuff. So while Moka was freezing ice in bags, prepping food, talking to neighbors about securing their house, I was in touch with her family letting them know what was up, and checking the news and weather frequently, sending her brief missives about what she needed to know from local news. She had no time to sit on the computer and try to figure out the track of the storm, the wind strength, whether or not the shelters in her county were full or if her neighbors had power. I could provide that info and did.
The best moments might have been when, late Sunday night, she was texting and asking me where the eye of the storm was. I had probably six different sites open but was having trouble finding the eye. It was as if a miracle had happened: the storm was beginning to break up, and the eye was dissipating, right as it got to them. From my look at the radar, I could tell her that the eerie calm she was hearing outside was not actually the eye, it was pretty much the end of the storm.
Fast forward to the happy ending…they got through it alright…two trees fell on their neighbor’s house and around the corner, four trees fell on another house and punctured the roof, leaving a gaping hole in the baby’s room.
So next time you have a faraway friend in a danger zone, see if you can reach out and help. It might just make a bigger difference than you can imagine.