Things After a Hurricane (Part 2)
By: Peggy Willms
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We have learned so much about the effects of a hurricane; the before, during, and the “right after.” The long-term “after” is yet to come. Animals, things, people, and places are forever affected by such storms as Hurricane Ian, which ripped through our town on Wednesday, September 28, 2022.
After I got my wits about me, and after we got the power back, I started writing a four-week blog series. In the series, I will share my observations and opinions about how a natural event with 155 mph winds affects animals, things, people, and places. You can read Animals After a Hurricane at https://peggywillms.com/body/animals-after-a-hurricane/. This week let’s chat about things.
We moved into our new home two months ago, which entailed packing and unpacking “things.” We spent months prepping for the move, which included many purging phases. I wrote a blog called Goodwill (https://peggywillms.com/body/goodwill/) in which I talk about our purging escapade. In the process, things became a “thing.” Many conversations ensued regarding what my boyfriend and I considered worthy of packing and storing for a month before we could move in.
Before I get too deep into this blog, I want to go on the record – I am not a things-type person, so it is pretty easy for me to shout, “Donate…toss…donate…toss” when answering, “Do you want this?” My family heirlooms, phone, laptop, and coffee pot are the only things I keep dragging around. And I have moved about 25 times!
My guy, however, is a sentimental little love bug, so oh boy, did I have to dial in my patience button and control my rolling eyes.
Right after we moved in, we decided to paint the entire inside and all nineteen doors. Lord, help me. You can check out that shit show experience in these blogs: https://peggywillms.com/body/paint-fumes/ and https://peggywillms.com/body/eleven-doors/
Simultaneously, we decided to plant trees and flowers. You can read a bit about my time with my bottlebrush tree at https://peggywillms.com/body/i-cut-sias-hair/.
As we became acclimated to our first home after renting for nearly 15 years (long story), we found such joy in looking for special spots for our things, and as you can guess, many new things started to find their way into the house. New paintings, dishes, bedding, towels, rugs, and much more, not to mention planting dozens of fresh flowers and trees.
My guy is a weather channel junkie. We knew Ian was brewing before Ian knew he was brewing. As we settled into our house, Ian settled into the Gulf of Mexico. And in no time, he decided to take a swift right turn toward our coast, surprising most meteorologists and many residents. We began hunkering down and trying to protect all our things.
Within 15 minutes of the first gusts, the shingles began flying off the roof, and water started pouring out of the fans, smoke detectors, vents, ceilings, and walls. We hurriedly took down our new paintings and desperately tried putting our special things in places where they would receive the least damage. In hindsight, I am sure it was comical as we put an object in one spot to move it two minutes later to a safer place for nearly nine hours.
After the storm settled and we could assess all the damages to our things, we quickly felt immense blessings. Nearly everything – including us – survived.
It didn’t take long after having conversations with our neighbors that we began hearing the status of surrounding areas. Without power for 4.5 days, you rely on word of mouth. Of course, I was concerned about the lives lost, but quickly, my thoughts were of all the things some families would never see again. Gone forever were many homes and vehicles, not to mention heirlooms, photos, clothing, and more.
I started thinking about all of their feelings associated with their things. Quickly, I realized how important it was for me to increase my sensitivity to others when it came to hearing stories of lost things. I am an empath dowsed with a fair amount of realism; for some, that is a tough pill to swallow. I can authentically feel your pain to turn around in sixty seconds and say, “Okay, let’s get this shit cleaned up and get you back on your feet again.” (perhaps not delivered that insensitively).
The ownership and love for one’s things are subjective. Their memories and connection to items is frankly none of my business. I have no right to judge anyone on their possessions or how they feel about them when they are lost in such a devastating fashion.
A vase isn’t “just a vase” to everyone. I am sure you have heard, “One person’s junk is another person’s treasure.” Your neighbor might find their old porch swing of immense value due to the memories shared while rocking their grandchildren over the last few decades, whereas you may feel it is just a few 2x4s and four old, linked chains. You may be more attached to clothes and photos, yet someone else may list their tech equipment in the top five most essential things in their life.
We all judge, and we all compare. We are human. Some do it more than others, but the bottom line is that we all do it. Major disasters reveal how we truly feel, our integrity and honesty, and how we act, especially regarding our things. I saw firsthand the differences between what people are attached to and what they are not.
I do not consider myself a material object girl, but it certainly has not been difficult to feel the loss and pain when I see someone holding a broken necklace or smashed candy dish. We cannot tell people how to feel, react, or when to get over a loss whether it is of a loved one, pet, or job.
I am now grateful I am attached to the memories of our new paintings and all the matching red trinkets and appliances in our kitchen. I love our unique throw pillows, my electric lawn mower, and my bougainvillea tree. I am thrilled that all the copies of my newly released book survived.
Until we can get all the damages repaired, our roof is covered in tarps and our home is now adorned with many DampRid buckets which remove moisture from the air.
I learned I can certainly live without my things, but I now respect and treasure them more. Unexpected events allow you to grow, and I have.
All Things Wellness, LLC
The information provided is the opinion of the author. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice: diagnosis or treatment. The author, the business, All Things Wellness, LLC, and its owner Peggy Willms, are not liable for risks or issues associated with using or acting upon the information in this article or website. We assume no responsibility for tangible and intangible damages such as physical harm caused by using a product, loss of profits or loss of data, and defamatory comments. This post may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I may earn from qualifying purchases.