Prepareness is one of those things that are constantly preached, taught, and little understood. The real truth is that while "Being prepared" may be a good motto, preparedness not only involves contingencies for physical needs, it also involves emotional response.
Picture taken by O.J. Bass two weeks after the Joplin tornado, June 2011.
The year 2011 brought its fair share of disasters: tornadoes, cyclones, tsunamis and earthquakes. My own little disaster is a splinter in the eye of world consequence, but it has shown me just how devastating events beyond personal control can truly become.
Cats: Alice, Blaze; Dogs: Matilda, Ebony. My normal AM workspace, complete with pets, cup of tea and newly cleaned cat boxes. Picture by O.J. Bass, June 2011.
I had prepared for emergencies. I had home-owners insurance, I had plenty of warm blankets, seasonal clothing and enough books on various types of independent living to fill a couple of book shelves. The freezer was full of food and the pantry had a decent supply of canned goods. I was not prepared to be removed from my home.
Packing the attic after the limb fell. August 2011. O.J. Bass.
As one of the Beach Blanket movies put it, we all live in a box. The four walls and roof of our particular box provide shelter and the pretense of privacy. They give us a place to keep our bedroll, cooking supplies, keep heat in or out. They keep our pets safe and controlled. They give us a place to scream, cry or rage away from the eyes of the world, allowing us to maintain a facade of polite decency. Break the integrity of that box, and we become vulnerable.
First, I learned that when one prepares for anything that can happen, the box gets over-full. When rescuing possessions from disaster, some pretty soul-wrenching triage can take place. Second, I learned that I need a better home-owners policy. The one I have is better than nothing, but having the basement level policy in place to meet the budget leaves holes in the budget when the emergency happens. Third the real cost of an emergency that devastates a home is not in the initial hours when one is numb to consequence and high on the adrenal rush of coping, but in the long hours, days and months of recuperation when those who have assisted become tired of the whole thing and must go back to their own lives. Fourth, even after personal possesions have been pared down to a suitcase and what can be carried in pockets, keeping track of small things needed for work and for survival can become nerve-wrackingly difficult.
Leslie Fish, one of my favorite not-mainstream songwriters wrote, “Can you keep your head, your backbone and your heart…” Disasters bring out both the worst and the best in everyone. None of us fully know or understand the person we are until we are brought against the emotional reality of events that throw us outside our little box.
Published in: Emergency Preparation