I am finally communicating. I finally have a way to talk to all of you after Irma, a devastating hurricane that hurt so many of us yet at the same time could’ve been so much worse than it was. And I can attest that the whole experience made a lot of us so much stronger.
My family resides in Puerto Rico and I still recall their phone calls last week as I was in the teacher planning room at Boca Raton Community High School, where I am a 10th grade English teacher. I was afraid for them and hoping they would survive the storm…and that they did. The hurricane thankfully didn’t cause as much damage as expected, yet here in Florida we were all prepping for the worst.
I learned a lot this past week as I prepare myself to get my life back to normal. I learned that there’s nothing like loyal friends, being thankful for what you have and also that preparing yourself for the worst, even if it thankfully doesn’t happen, is the way to go.
Below, for Floridians and those who might also be fearful of ever being in the path of a major super-storm, are some tips that as a native Puerto Rican and current Floridian since 2004 have helped me survive many hurricanes and recently made me get past Irma unscathed.
Even if it means stocking up on water, canned goods, lamps and batteries, it doesn’t hurt at all to be prepared. In my home, we lost electricity for almost 4 days…in sweltering 95-degree heat. Those days, those batteries for flashlights, those canned goods to cook over a gas stove, and those lamps to keep us lit up, and water to keep us super hydrated, really came in handy. Honestly, you can never be too prepared, and after the storm you will have items you still need and can also help other friends in need.
BE THERE FOR OTHERS
I had a lovely fellow teacher and friend stay with me and I was happy to support her. I had friends checking up on me at all times, until I lost power and any means of mobile and internet communication. In the end, we should all be there for each other, especially in tough times like these. The company is welcome, for no one wants to ride a scary storm alone, and it shows that in the end we are all in this together.
FIND YOUR SAFE SPACE
The howling wind and heavy rain is scary, which is why I kept my kitty cat Luna in a safe space at all times. I was also thankful to have my husband Sebastian, who was super supportive and helped me through my anxiety and stress before, during and after the storm. For me, my safe space doesn’t only mean a safe space at home, it also means a safe space with friends and family who care…make sure you have support when you are afraid and don’t do anything hasty like going outside during a hurricane.
BE THANKFUL AND DON’T BE AFRAID TO GO BACK TO NORMAL
We all have routines and a life. Don’t be afraid to read a book, listen to music and plan for your life once it goes back to your version of normal. Help neighbors, help others, take care of yourself with little things that make you happy and be thankful you made it through this. In the end, we all go through stressful times, and it is how we handle them that show us we are capable of getting through anything. Be happy, smile and make sure you realize how blessed you are if you didn’t lose much at all.
Aurora Dominguez is a high school English teacher, professor, comic store sales associate, journalist, wife and cat mom, not necessarily in that order. Irma is about her sixth hurricane, and she still remembers living through them in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Tweet at her at @AuroraMiami and at us at @DirtyandThirty.