We’ve all heard the predictions: Nineteen major Atlantic hurricanes are expected for 2005, five of which are predicted to impact Central Florida. Certainly, nobody yet has forgotten the three hurricanes that inconvenienced us last year. But before we look ahead to this coming season, let’s stop and take stock of the lessons we’ve learned from our most recent experiences and prepare our children for this year.
In 2004, we pulled together as a community and did all the things good friends and neighbors do when the chips are down. We shared food, water, tarps, and cell phones, and we took time to connect with the strangers across the street. We reached out to those in need and made some great new friends in the process. We hunkered down, we weathered the storm, and together we cleared the deadwood.
We became accustomed to the blue tarps, and fortunately, “tarp city” is almost gone. So what can we do to prepare for this year? Certainly we cannot change Mother Nature. After all, few “mothers” allow her “children” to change her. However, we have now learned how to live with her. And that is the first step towards a safe season.
The good news is that most of the things five hurricanes can damage have already been damaged and replaced. New roofs, stronger windows, and better structures mean less damage. The old trees are gone and the new trees are firmly rooted in their place. Our communities are now ready to come through the storm with minimal or no damage.
Yes, we’re ready. We all know what we have to gather, and for the most part, we all have our storm supplies ready. Sure, there are some things we can still do. For example, we can still have our plan of where to go when the phones are out. We still need to know where the closest shelter is.
Those of us with kids should consider going to visit friends or relatives when the next storm comes. After all, what better time is there to go on vacation than when a hurricane is in town?
We’ve all discovered that cell phones work during the storm, and we’ve all learned that if you can’t call directly to a family member, then we need somebody else to call—a central friend or message board—somebody out of town who can let everyone else know we’re okay. Don’t forget text messaging, email and SMS. Teens and even young kids with cell phones are expert at these technologies. Chaos is the only constant in natural disasters such as hurricanes. The answer to coping with the sense helplessness chaos brings is to take control of some aspect of the disaster. Even if you know how to text message, ask your kids to help you or even teach you to use these technologies.
The key to feeling safe and not worrying about this year’s storms is to be prepared and to have a plan. Make sure your children know the plan, have practiced the plan and can implement the plan without you. That’s right, the key to security is knowledge. After 2004, we have the knowledge and we have the experience. And as a result, we’ll get through this year’s storms far easier than we got through last year’s.
So when the wind blows and the rain falls this season, we’ll be warm, dry, and hunkered down. We’ll play games with our kids, talk with our kids and maybe even learn something about them as people. We’ll hold your children close until the sun shines in Central Florida again. After all, they don’t call us the Sunshine State for nothing.