Coping with Natural Disasters

How to Cope with Natural Disasters

Weathering a Crisis Together

In February 2021, Texas faced an epic infrastructure disaster that left millions of people without power, water and transportation. My family and I were right in the middle of it, stuck trying to cope with this natural disaster. The night the storm blew in, we got alerts that some power blackouts would be affecting our area, and we made basic preparations.

We lived just north of “hurricane alley” for years, so we’re used to extended blackouts and weather danger. During Hurricane Ike, we had an 18 month old child and went seven days without power. In Texas. In August. We know what we’re doing. Our pantry was full, we had warm clothes and candles. Personally, I was excited to get a little quiet time with my fully charged e-reader.

The power went out sometime on Monday, and it just didn’t come back on for hours at a time. Just when we least expected it, the power would surge on for thirty minutes to a couple of hours, our furnace would heat us up a little, and then it would go out again.

Our home requires electricity to run our gas furnace, and the temperature outside dropped to zero. I’ve lived in Texas for 36 years and have never experienced anything like zero degrees. We dripped our faucets and huddled with our children under blankets.

We kept our gas fireplace running, but it didn’t give off much heat. By the time we got a surge of power at 2:00 in the morning, our home was below 50 degrees. Remember, Texas homes are designed to not hold in heat. In the summers, we work around the clock to stay cool. Therefore, our basic home designs and building materials are different than places up north that can live through nor’easters.

While the power was on, we charged all the devices, brewed coffee for the morning, and rushed to cook some hot food. We would repeat this pattern for three days before our power finally stayed on. We watched as our pool froze solid, listened as our pool equipment cracked. We have yet to even calculate the damage.

We anxiously sat together. For one full day, even our cell service was out, and we were unable to contact anyone in the outside world. That was eerie, and I started to get a little worried. Eventually, 5G service would kick in, and I’d get a few updates or text messages from friends.

Every time I checked social media, another neighbor or friend was experiencing freezing temperatures in their homes or busted pipes followed by huge blasts of icy water that then froze the inside of their homes, solidifying the damage to their flooring and walls. It was a nightmare.

In times of great stress, your marriage can and should be an emotional resource to help one another cope with the strenuous circumstances. In many cases like these, when people start to run out of food or medicine or start thinking about what all this damage will cost, emotions can run extremely high, and it’s easy to take frustration out on each other.

Read through the following advice to keep in mind the next time you and your spouse have to cope natural disasters or other sudden, high periods of stress together.

7 Ways to Cope with Natural Disasters and Sudden Stress

1. Reassure One Another From the Beginning

Look your partner in the eye and let them know that no matter what happens, you will weather the storm together. No matter how bad things get, you’ll have each other and will look out for each other’s health and well-being.

2. Try to Settle Any Frustrations with Each Other

If you’re furious about your spouse forgetting to do something, let them know that you need them to do it, and talk it out once everything is stable. Focus on staying safe first. What you don’t want to do is hold everything in, let out a passive aggressive remark and have it spiral into hurt feelings or resentment during a natural disaster.

3. Sit Down Together and Discuss Contingency Plans

This can be done way before any weather event. Under what circumstances will you try to evacuate? How will you handle it if your roof has damage? Having plans or ideas of what will happen ahead of time will give you great reassurance. One of the actions that gave me the most comfort was my husband making sure we had our insurance agent’s number programmed into both of our phones.

4. Stay Up to Date

Emergency Communication Radio

Monitor updates from local officials and discuss them with one another. If any of these updates will be a problem for you, discuss calmly what you can do. During the ice storm, we were bringing snow inside and filling bathtubs to have water to flush the toilets with in case we lost water.

5. Keep Busy

My grandmother used to say that idle hands were the devil’s instrument. Having nothing to do and getting bored only leads to trouble. Instead of just stewing on what could happen, play a game together. Make a picnic out of non-perishables and make it a date night.

6. Tell Your Spouse What You’re Worried About

I was really scared that we might have pipes bust. I confided in my husband my worries about busted pipes leading to living in a hotel – which many people are currently experiencing even weeks after the winter weather event in Texas event – and having to mess with renovating our entire home. My husband knew just what to say, and he wrapped me in a hug and told me that at least I’d get that new flooring I always wanted. The mood lightened.

7. If You Can’t Sleep, Don’t

Chances are you’ll get a nap at some point, but don’t lay in bed fretting at every noise you hear. Read a book, or do something productive until you are tired enough to sleep.

If You Cant Sleep Don't

Three days later, our power came back on. Yes, the pool equipment was a total loss, and it’s going to cost us. We got through it alright, though. We presented a united front to our children and made the experience an adventure. We relied on each other when we needed to, helped each other with work that needed to be done, and when it ended, we cleaned up together. Once your family is secured, do not forget to reach out to friends and neighbors to check if you can help them – especially the elderly or sick that may be too proud to ask for help.

Hopefully disasters like this will start coming at us less frequently. Until that day, we’ll stay prepared and do our best to keep each other safe. There is power in love. Together, we can face any challenge that comes our way.

What are your tips for coping natural disasters? Do you have a great emergency preparedness idea that might benefit our readers? Reach out and share your thoughts with our community in the comments below! If you enjoyed this article, please share on social media using the buttons below and sign-up for our newsletter to receive advice straight in your inbox.

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