Some boys just do not play well with others. If they are a hurricane named "Matthew," they are downright nasty.
Over a week's time, we watched Hurricane Matthew forming over the Caribbean Sea and into the Western Atlantic, threatening so many innocents in its path. It was as if horror was being witnessed in slow motion while the storm grew, edging toward Caribbean islands and on to the US mainland. When the winds and rain had finally relented, thousands of lives were lost and billions in damage sustained.
In the midst of this horrible hurricane, a story emerged that painfully resonated with parents like us. Susan Weir of Volusia County, Florida was turned away from a shelter along with her 28-year-old severely disabled son because his needs were too complex. They were referred to a hospital but found no shelter there because her son presented with no medical crises at the time. This left Ms. Weir and her son to ride out the storm in their home. They were among the 1 million people who lost power as the hurricane hit land in Florida. This was especially problematic because her son's traumatic brain injury had left him unable to regulate his core temperature. With no electricity to power air conditioning and other critical devices in their home, Weir's son did eventually become dangerously ill. Despite having to wait out the worst 6 hours of the storm at home, she managed to get her son to the hospital in time to save his life.
My heart hurts for this mother! All alone, begging for help, and being left out in a vicious storm to fend for myself would be among life's worst nightmares for any parent like me. It always seems that the most vulnerable of us are offered up as casualties when there is a large disaster.
Now, hear me when I say that I am not being critical of this mother and her circumstances. There is always so much more to a situation than what we hear or read in a brief news clip.
At the same time, this story should serve as a stark reminder to ALL of us that we are given the opportunity to plan ahead for crises. The old saying goes, "Failing to plan is planning to fail." The best time to work out the kinks of an emergency situation is when we are not in one. Susan Weir is taking that action now that the storm has passed to work with officials on the broken parts of special needs disaster preparedness. This way, she and others won't face such a nightmare in the next emergency that is sure to come.
You may not live in a coastal region, but no area of the world is exempt from catastrophe. Any family can lose power, experience a tragic home fire, or even face a job loss. These situations affect our ability to offer our children critical appropriate care.
Here might be some smart questions to ask yourself to initiate your planning:
- Have you planned an escape route if there is a home fire?
- What would happen if you could not receive just-in-time delivery of your child's specialty pharmacy medications?
- Are there obstacles you would face beyond the typical inconveniences if your home lost power?
- Where would you go for shelter if you needed to evacuate?
- What are the critical items you would take if you had to leave your home quickly?
PRAY: Holy Spirit, You are the source of all wisdom. Keep tapping on our shoulders, reminding us of this imperative to plan ahead for the well-being of our children and loved ones. Give us the tools we need to be great stewards of the precious lives entrusted to our care.
~ Barb Dittrich
Pinterest Board on Emergency Preparedness