Half the country is talking about Hurricane Matthew. Where did it go, when will it go away, how much damage did it do? For the last week, we’ve been holding our breath all over the eastern side of the US, wondering where it would go next. I’m fascinated with weather, so when a storm like this comes around, I am all over it. I like to know all the what-ifs and the percentage of particular situations.
These storms can be scary. There’s a lot of hype and you don’t know what to expect until it happens. And there’s wind. There’s rain. There are scary sounds. And it goes on for hours. But eventually, the rain lets up. The wind stops howling. The sun rises again. The forecast calls for sunshine and clear skies.
And people begin to venture out. The power is out, so all the electronic distractions are gone. People want to weigh their experience against others, to check on neighbors, to make sure everything looks okay. Neighbors take walks. Neighbors call, text, check in on Facebook. Friends share water, food, offer their home to others, help those who need aid.
We are lucky. Some people lost their lives in this storm, but we live in a country that has the opportunity to rebuild quickly. Many of us can evacuate if we need to. We can buy extra food and water if we need it. Maybe we lost power for a few hours. Or a day or two. But we know it’s coming back. We know we’ll get back to our life, soon, hopefully.
In countries like Haiti, that isn’t the case. These people have lost so much. Things that can’t be rebuilt. Lives, homes, towns.
Here’s the thing about hurricanes. They’re unpredictable. You think you know where it’s going and then it goes somewhere else. When Hurricane Matthew hit the US it was weaker than when it hit Haiti, but it was still a very strong and life threatening storm. In fact, some of the meteorologists used incredible scare tactics to get people to evacuate. Some people had to leave their homes in preparation.
These storms can be terrifying and life threatening. But one silver lining is that it brings out the love. People check in on each other. That’s my favorite part; the walk the next day. The “how are you?” the “do you need anything?,” the caring community that sometimes it takes an extreme weather event to see. Maybe we’ll say hello to our neighbors a little more often now. Maybe we’ll become friends. I wish it didn’t take such an event for people to step outside their own worlds for a few moments. But we all have to start somewhere.
We’re all struggling with something. When it’s a hurricane, it’s obvious. But even when the sun is shining, some people are dealing with some tough stuff. Asking “how are you?” and really meaning it can go a long way.