I’m taking a little break from preparations for a potential hurricane or storm that may or may not come to my area. I let my guard down with hurricane Harvey believing that all of the dire predictions were little more than fear mongering. Then I watched for days as the rain continued to fall and the homes of friends and family were filled with water. I reached a point of sleeping only a few hours each day lest I awaken to a flooded home. I ended up moving my medications, books and important papers to the upstairs rooms just in case I became the next victim of the inundation. I developed a crazed fear that my husband would have a stroke because he had endured the first one only weeks before and his doctors had told him that a second one often followed within the first three months.
I learned from that experience that it is far better to be safe than sorry. Because I know that hurricane season is always serendipitous I actually began gathering together supplies all the way back in March when we first hunkered down in the hopes of flattening the Covid-19 curve. It seemed to me that handling natural disasters during a time of pandemic and economic collapse might not be as easy as in other years. I wanted to be as self sufficient as possible so I asked my husband to purchase a generator, which he obligingly did. I took stock of my lanterns, flashlights and candles and made sure that I had plenty of batteries. I have made it a habit of listening to the national and local news during my hour of daily exercise so that I will be aware of any changes in either the virus or the weather.
Now I am putting the final touches on my readiness. My home is filled with potted plants and lawn furniture. The various forms of lighting that I may have to use are set out on my countertop, including flashlights, lanterns and candles. I have gasoline in the truck in case we have to leave and I have downloaded various news apps on my phone. In a few days if Laura appears to be continuing on a path to my neck of the woods I will fill both of my bathtubs with water because I know that sometimes the water supply gets tainted and I want to have as much as I may need for cooking and drinking. I’ve even procured a pour over coffee pot ready for making an old fashioned cup of brew if I don’t have enough power to run my Keurig.
I hope more than anything that I will be laughing by this time next week as I work to store everything back in it’s usual place. It’s always nice to dodge a bullet. Still, I know that if we don’t bear the brunt here somebody else will in another locale. I do not wish the destruction on anyone, especially given the hardships that so many have already endured. I worry that the outpouring of help that we saw in the aftermath of hurricane Harvey and hurricane Ike will not be available because of everything else that is happening. I truly worry that people fleeing to shelters will be infected with the virus in new appalling numbers. There seems to be no real upside to these storms unless they lose their strength by some glorious miracle.
I’ve had a family of baby frogs show up inside my home which tells me that Mother Nature is preparing for the worst just as I am. Friends have noticed that their pets are behaving skittishly. I don’t know if these are signs that something bad is coming our way but I am not willing to discount anything and so I just keep preparing. As I do I cannot help but notice how truly fortunate I am. I have both wind and flood insurance. I have that generator and an ample supply of food and bottled water. I have a phone that will keep me up to date and a truck that is built to move easily through high water if I need to leave.
Covid-19 has disproportionately affected Blacks, Native Americans, and Hispanics. Some seem to believe there is no real explanation for that but I fully understand that it is mostly because so many of these people are the most economically underserved in our country. They too often have little access to good medical care and sometimes to things we take for granted like running water. They rarely have time to take off from work when they are sick or need check ups. They are the ones who have been the essential workers while so many like me have had the luxury of staying safely at home. When I order groceries or necessary items they are more often than not delivered by people from those groups. They work in the fields, pack the meat, stock the groceries, mow the lawns, and sometimes work for hours each day long after others are relaxing. They often live in the most flood prone neighborhoods that are the most likely to be devastated by natural disasters. They are the people trying to pull themselves up into the middle class who often seem unable to catch a break.
When a hurricane comes we learn about the faults in our homes and neighborhoods. So too has the year of 2020 shown us where we have great problems. While many people celebrate that they have been mostly untouched by virus or economic despair there are also those who are losing all hope as they watch family members die and lose income as jobs erode. They have not enjoyed the comfort of working from home and feeling safe. It is perhaps outrageous for those of us not in their shoes to judge them or lack compassion for their plight. I can think of no greater insult to them than insinuating that things are not as bad as some say. Now we must hope that they will be safe during the storms.
In the end the weather may not affect me personally but the storms have already come among us. I think it is long past time for all of us to acknowledge those who have borne the brunt. We need each other and always will.