7 Powerful Lessons Learned from Hurricane Matthew

This week, Hurricane Matthew bulldozed its way through the Caribbean and up the east coast of the United States. At last check, the death toll in Haiti was approximately 800 and utility trucks are packing up to go to the Bahamas from Port Everglades on later this morning. Thankfully, the area where I live only got a few showers and winds that were barely strong enough to bend the palm fronds. We were blessed beyond measure. The last hurricane I was in was Wilma. She barreled into South Florida in late October 2005 and saw fit to plant a tree in my minivan. Compared to Matthew, she was a beast, but he taught me so much more.

The Storms of Life Provide Very Little Warning

With a hurricane, you have at least 5 days to prepare. The storm has to go through several stages before it is determined to be a hurricane. The weather forecast also has to show that you’re in the cone of concern before you really have to take action. In the case of a life storm, you barely get to blink an eye between breaths when something goes wrong. You could leave your house as you normally would for work or school. You don’t expect to get into an accident on the way, but it happens. Whether it’s your fault or not, you have to deal with the consequences. The most you can do to be prepared is to be a cautious driver and make sure you have active coverage from your insurance company.

Heed Warnings of Imminent Danger

There are measures in place to protect the public for a reason. I was glued to the news for the entire day. I wanted to make sure I knew where the storm was headed and how close it would be to my immediate location. Although my family decided not to evacuate, we were prepared in every other way. With the uncertainty of hurricanes and other natural disasters, it is best to pay attention to the warnings given by the media, even if some anchors took it a bit far.

 

Trust Your Instincts

When my family decided not to evacuate, we made the decision with the complete understanding that we would have to ride out whatever happens. When Wilma hit, we were without power for 2 weeks. We know how to survive without power. The children were with my parents who lived a few hours away and they were never impacted by the outage. With Matthew, my husband and I surveyed the weather that was outside of our house and compared it to the weather that was being shown on the news. The two didn’t quite add up to evacuation, so we stayed put.

 

Be Prepared for All Possible Outcomes

I know you can’t be prepared for everything, but prepare for as much as you can. We had the standard hurricane survival kit. We had plenty of water, batteries, candles, flashlights, and crayons. Yes, crayons. A single crayon can burn for 45 minutes to an hour. We also had plenty of food. There was charcoal for the grill and full propane tank for the turkey fryer that I’ve used for everything besides frying a turkey. We were ready to rough it and if there was any doubt in our mind about surviving, we had a tank full of gas that would take us to safety and comfort.

Be Thankful for All Possible Outcomes

Whether you break a nail or lose your vehicle like I did with Hurricane Wilma, be thankful. As long as you are alive to walk/limp/hobble away from the damage, you are blessed. You cannot be replaced. There are people in your life that need you. Be thankful that you are still here for them and to fight another day.

It could Be Worse

This is one of my favorite sayings. Why? Because it is true. No matter what the situation or ailment, it could be worse. The only way it doesn’t apply is if you are referencing death. I don’t think there is anything worse than that. Before you decide to complain, think about the alternative. I’m always reminded of the man who complained about not having ugly shoes until he saw a man with no feet. Try to put situations in their proper perspective.

Support Won’t Come from Where You Expect

My mother sent me a text each time Rick Scott was at the podium. It was like she was his personal scribe. She even went as far as telling my brother to call me and get me to leave now. It wasn’t happening. Reference number 3 for the reason why. I knew we were prepared and I knew we had a contingency plan, but she wasn’t having any of it. She didn’t support my decision making skills. I understand the concern, but the other 4 hurricanes that I navigated successfully have to count for something, right? I guess not. In life, the people who you think will support you, won’t always be in the front row cheering you on. It’s important to know that they don’t love you any less. They just see things differently. Take the opportunity to do your best and finish strong.

No matter what the situation, whether it’s a hurricane or a car accident, be strong and know, “this too shall pass”.

sophia antoine