I have spent the last nine years of my life living in Florida. Florida is known for their beaches and sunny weather, but sometimes we forget how prone the state is to hurricanes. Being a Florida resident, I had become very used to the hurricane season. What I didn’t realize was how bad other parts of the country get in severe weather conditions. As a traveling consultant I am so lucky to be seeing our great country, but emergency weather situations have been a huge eye opener for me.
I was recently in Houston, Texas visiting the Lambda Delta Chapter at the University of Houston. During my time there, we got word that Hurricane Harvey was approaching. The people in Houston have seen storms like this before and knew that large amount of rain was nothing to mess around with. I took the locals advice and tried to not compare it to a Florida hurricane.
I was 1,046 miles away from home and had a category 4 hurricane heading straight in my direction. I learned a lot about myself that week in Houston. I also learned a lot about being prepared and responsible. Obviously I am not a natural disaster expert, but if you keep these tips in your back pocket, it might be useful. Here are some quick takeaways:
- Always listen to the officials on TV: They know what they are talking about. In the best case scenario, they will be wrong and you can go about your normal day.
- Listen to the locals: If you are not from an area and have to deal with an emergency situation, find people who understand the area and can give you helpful advice. I never knew Houston flooded badly, but now I know what they mean.
- Stock up on food and water: Flooding is NO JOKE! Natural disasters in general are no joke and can leave people without basic necessities for days and sometimes even weeks. Also, if you lose power you will lose all the food in your fridge. Have plenty of food that won’t go bad without power!
- Keep yourself informed: Whether that’s keeping the news on, having emergency alerts on your phone, or texting others in the area, you need to find a way to keep yourself in the loop because there is always new information.
- Stay inside: Natural disasters bring so much unknown. You need to stay safe and aware. Listen to the alerts on TV and take proper cover and shelter when instructed.
- Recovery Takes Awhile: Once the rain stops, and the sun decides to come out, there is still so much that needs to be done. Supermarkets had lines that stretched for a mile. Gas stations were not open. Restaurants and businesses all halted their operations. Be prepared to wait out the recovery period, just as much as waiting out the storm. Houston is in my thoughts as they start on their road to recovery.
- Volunteer: The Houston community really rallied together during this storm. Sister’s from our Lambda Delta chapter went to food banks, shelters and first aid stations to provide service to their community when they needed it most. If you ever experience a natural disaster and have the capability to volunteer and lend a helping hand, DO IT!
Although this was not the ideal chapter visit, I will always remember it. One of the biggest and most special takeaways was the amount of care and support I received while at Houston during Hurricane Harvey. The chapter members drove me to my hotel when I had to evacuate. The advisors opened their homes and arms to make sure I felt safe and comfortable during this situation. One advisor even offered to drive through flooded roads to bring me food. When she couldn’t get her car through the water covered streets, she walked to me so that I would have plenty of snacks. Even though I was 1,046 miles away from home, my “family” was a lot closer than I thought.
Our sisterhood is so strong. Women who had never even met me were bending over backwards to make sure I was safe and cared for. That is what sisterhood truly is, and I am so thankful for the love and southern hospitality that helped me get through Hurricane Harvey.