Through the Storm: Surviving a Natural Disaster

It is said that you don’t know your true potential until you find yourself in a situation where you have to do something you have never done before. Well, I learnt this the hard way. I still remember, it was a beautiful sunny day outside and then suddenly the clouds appeared out of nowhere. I was peeking out the window when it began to rain heavily. I took a break from work and went to the basement to check the level of water coming into the yard. The drain was clogged, so I had to dig out the dirt with a shovel. I was just finished showering and drying myself off afterward when I saw people running in the street. A neighbor knocked at my door and told me to move my car. Luckily, I managed to move my car to another location.

By the time I returned, water had risen up to my knees. It was going up so fast that I was stuck on the block. I remember the feeling of helplessness and fear when I was unable to get out because I couldn’t swim. Luckily, the National Guard and Police arrived in no time.

I remember waiting without electricity to see if the water was going to come down. They had to drain the water or we would have been rescued in the lifeboats. Everything happened so fast that it was raining heavily in the morning and by the afternoon the sun was out like nothing had happened.

This is when the real work began. I had to drain out an endless sweep of water that night. The Red Cross was there to provide cleaning supplies and food the following day. There was a lot to recover from after the flood. The things one can’t even imagine, such as gas, electricity, and water were all cut off. I had to dispose of all the food due to the power cut. Fortunately, our electricity was only out for two days. Let’s not forget that we were undergoing a pandemic. Although it was a natural disaster and many people needed financial assistance, no support was offered by FEMA.

It’s times like these when you value the random acts of kindness from strangers the most. I’ll always be grateful to the two guys I hired to help me throw out furniture to clean the basement. After noticing that I was really exhausted, they finished sweeping the remaining water, helped me clean the room, and took out trash from the basement.

Going through a flood can be a lot more than draining and traumatizing. I had just bought the house a year ago and totally renovated it. I hadn’t been in the house even for a year and the basement was all ruined after the flood, which meant that I had to do the renovations again. I had already spent all the money on buying the house and renovations. Sadly, I didn’t know it was a flood zone, so I didn’t have flood insurance and had to do all the renovation work myself and use my savings.

I didn’t have much idea that the damage caused by water could be so bad, but luckily, we had supportive neighbors around us. Everyone was helping each other through this difficult time. I stayed at a hotel for a couple of nights but spent most of the time cleaning the house and repairing the damage. It was certainly a life-changing incident and took a couple of months to get back to normal life. I recall feeling lost and scared when I saw my basement filled with water. All I could think about was not getting drowned. However, I focused my energy on getting my house beautiful again and making it through the storm.

My approach to coping with this traumatic experience was to focus on getting things done and not to focus on the negative things. Although there were moments of weakness, despair, and dread when I felt shattered and cried. It was horrifying for me to go through a disaster caused by a natural element, water, which could even end your life.

This was the first time in my life that I had to go through a natural disaster, so I didn’t realize the possible effects it could have on me. I still get scared whenever it rains and the first thing, I do is check my basement for water. I always feel apprehensive of the same things happening to me again. This was probably the hardest time of my life I passed through alone when everyone thought I was doing fine.

I met a few neighbors in community meetings who had faced similar situations before. It was frightening to listen to their fears and anxieties and know that I wasn’t the only one. Now, more than ever, I can empathize with the survivors of natural disasters. You’re never the same person after it, but, eventually, you do bounce back. Going through a natural disaster makes you stronger. Surviving a storm and getting back to life feels like part of the healing process. This is what motivated me to share my story with you to help you cope with such situations. I know I will get better as time goes on and so will you.

When taking down the sheetrock of the basement, I discovered that two brick walls were exposed. I decided to keep them as it is after replacing a few of the bricks. I didn’t know until now that I had it in me to do the renovation myself. It was gratifying to work on the brick walls, doing the sanding of the walls and painting. It didn’t feel less than an accomplishment.

I kept the decorations minimal this time so if it ever floods again, I won’t have much to clean up and I can just move the furniture away. Also, I didn’t put anything on the floor and painted the basement walls white. My pool table plays triple duty, as a working space, dining table, and an entertainment game table.

Walking around the basement gives me a feeling of joy and triumph. It always puts a smile on my face looking at all the work I have done myself. It shows that you can achieve anything you put your mind to. I could use rebuilding my basement as a metaphor for getting through life’s storms and tragedies. You can rebuild it one day at a time and get back to normal.

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