Rebuilding After the Storm


The forecasters at the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) were right. Back in May, NOAA forecasters predicted an above-normal 2017 Atlantic hurricane season, complete with two to four storms ranging from a Category 3 or stronger. Thus far, three hurricanes have exceeded that standard: Harvey, Irma, and Jose. After the winds die down and the rain bands dissipate, people contend with rebuilding life in a trail of madness.

Post-survival means different things to different people. First, the joy of surviving the storm brings a sense of calm. Then, learning loved ones and pets are safe tends to increase gratitude. Although things are replaceable, however, the challenge of doing so does not come easy.

In a touching dedication to the victims of Hurricane Katrina, rap artist Lil Wayne, with the help of R & B singer Robin Thicke, penned the song “Tie My Hands” with these commanding lyrics:

Some say tragedy is hard to get over. But sometimes the tragedy means it’s over.

Often onlookers fail to attribute enough praise and support to the art of surviving trauma. The focus tends to lean more on the items or people lost instead of the beauty of living to see another day. Long before survivors are prepared to take another step towards personal dreams and goals, they must first acknowledge that they have survived a storm. That in itself is a miracle.

If a microphone were to be passed around any social setting along with the question, “Has anyone been through any tough times?” instantly, a Dr. Phil moment would ensue. Everyone has bad experiences in their past. The difference for some is how they learned to deal with them. Often in families, there is the teaching to sweep matters under the rug. They use the old motto “What happens in this house stays in this house.” That only serves to create an environment where victims are not free to express any feelings and certainly not release pain. The illusion of healing is there because everyone is so busy keeping the family secrets.

Of course, wisdom is primary when dealing with details of a person’s past, but everyone needs a safe outlet with a friend or professional where they can have true expression. Between what happened and what needs to happen next is called a transition. When entering this stage of the journey things can become difficult. This difficulty exists because many do not know how to handle periods of uncertainty. A tragedy can rob survivors of who they were. However, the beauty of “today” is the power to redefine tomorrow.

No one has to enter his or her next level of life dragging the outdated memory of what was. They can cross over into a new normal with confidence knowing there is something better for after the loss. Here are some great ways to manage a tragedy:

Own your story: We all have come from different places. Society sometimes attempts to categorize everyone by a stormset of labels. This literally robs us of our individuality. Your journey has cost you your life, at least you can tell the story of the storm your way.

Maintain control of the pen: The worst thing you can ever do is have someone else write your next chapter for you. People will tell you what to do based on their past, not yours. Be open to the advice of others but in the end, if it is meant to be, it is up to you.

Do not allow today’s tragedy to define tomorrow: Stop telling yourself it did not happen. The first step to healing is accepting the truth. You were hurt. You did suffer. But, the story never ends there! The next question you should be asking is, “What is next for me?” When you answer that, the next chapter can begin.

After the storm dissipates and the media loses interest, the focus must remain on recovery efforts, still holding local, state, and federal authorities responsible, and following what happens to the most marginalized communities affected by these freak weather patterns. These stories deserve to be told. Long after Hurricane season is over, the people of Texas, Florida and any other affected areas are going to need assistance rebuilding.

Nothing is more demoralizing than to see a person’s story minimized. Even in the court of law, people have the right to tell their side of the events. The problem is, once the storm is over it seems the world becomes too busy to listen anymore. However, none of that means the survivor’s journey is any less important. There are scores of people out there waiting to be liberated by the effects of their own storms through the testimonies of others. To deny them access is to leave them in shackles.

Rebuilding life after the storm takes courage and strength. The fact that victims had the guts to get up today is proof that you cannot keep a great person down. Each survivor is a living testimony that there is life after the storm.

Opinion by Cherese Jackson (Virginia)


CNN: Warning: The deadliest time is after the hurricane leaves
Los Angeles Times: NOAA’s prediction was right. It’s been a busy hurricane season

Image Credits:

Top Image by Gus Holzer Courtesy of Florida Fish and Wildlife’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License
Inline Image by Capt. Martha Nigrelle Courtesy of The National Guard’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License
Featured Image by Gus Holzer Courtesy of Florida Fish and Wildlife’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License

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