Growing up in tornado country, you spend a lot of time cleaning up after storms. You spend at least one weekend every summer shoveling muck out of a basement, cleaning up downed branches or picking up debris. And then serving a mission for my church in hurricane alley... Well, let's just say I saw my fair share of floods, over-turned trailers, uprooted trees and water-logged garbage.
But I've always been the lucky one. My home has always felt like the calm in the storm. Knowing my mom and dad would take care of us, that the power would be turned on soon, and that friends and family would be there if things didn't turn out so well.
This weekend has been a strange mix of the two. While I was without power for only 25 hours and I had plenty of nonperishable food and emergency supplier on hand, many people in my community haven't been so lucky. None of the stores have reopened, a lot of the traffic lights are not yet working, many cars are still buried by branches and the garbage is piling up everywhere. Emergency services still haven't been fully restored, and there is a lot of uncertainty around here. Probably the worst part is that I didn't have my family right around the corner to help.
Then again, I had several friends come and check on me when our cellphones weren't working. Another friend invited me to spend the hottest part of day at her pool and then welcomed me into her home to charge my phone, check my email and get some homework done. Though she had family visiting, another friend made up a bed for me so I didn't have to spend the night alone in my overheated apartment, and yet another friend two states away was ready to have me as a last-minute houseguest if my power hadn't been restored.
I still don't know when everything is going to be back to normal. Heck, I don't even know if my office will have power in the morning. But what I do know is that even when the unexpected happens, there are always people willing to help.