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Lessons From the Eye Of The Storm

Lessons From the Eye Of The Storm

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So many of us are experiencing Mother Nature’s wrath. Between the forest fires, hurricanes, flooding and tornadoes we have all been touched in some way, shape or form by either knowing someone who has been affected or being affected ourselves.

For me it was Hurricane Irma. No way would I have predicted how my life would change. I flew from Rhode Island to Miami to support defiant 94 and 92 year old parents who did not want to leave their home. After three days of hurricane “proofing” their house to the best of my ability I finally gave them an ultimatum – stay without me or leave with me. And they acquiesced and left with me, and my cousin Ed, who flew in from New York to also support his mom. We caravanned to Orlando to stay at our cousin’s home. She was on vacation and did she luck out! Ed and I secured her home and cleaned up the mess afterwards. Three houses shuttered in 72 hours and we were unstoppable in our focus, strategizing, decision making and implementation.

When we returned to the Miami area we found our parents homes safe and sound with a lot of cleanup to be done. Luckily AC, water and power was restored quickly thanks to Florida Power and Light and the thousands of workers who came from all parts of the country to assist in resurrecting Florida to it’s glory.

In full transparency, this stress resilience coach could not have done it without my cousin, Ed, and the stress resilience tools I teach and use daily. There were times Ed had to pull me out of the stratosphere because as we all know, communicating with family members who are in denial, can be challenging even in good times. The constant strategizing and implementing of the moment to moment decisions we had to make really challenged us, and as team, we truly were unstoppable. Alone it would have been a horrifically lonely road.

Mother Nature delivered her lessons with a huge punch. Here are several of the most important business and life lessons that she taught us this time around:

1. Use the right tool for the right job.
Ed picked up a great pair of Huskey gloves for me to use that are brilliant. My hands were protected and the gloves allowed me to work well. What equipment have you been waffling on getting to help you do great work?

2. Prepare for the unexpected and test everything. Improvise when necessary.
Always expect the unexpected no matter how much you prepare. Two incidents deserve mention. The first was Ed getting locked into the wine/bomb shelter we were going to use. Getting him out was quite funny as a friend picked the lock. We thought we had it fixed and under control and I became the guinea pig to test it again. Darn it was dark in there! This time though I was smart and had a flash light with me. The lock failed again and we had to dismantle it completely. Can you imagine being in that shelter locked in, no cell phone service and no power or light with three over 80 year olds? Check and test everything constantly. The second event blew my mind. Ed called out in that OMG tone of voice that made me shutter. When opening the garage door it came off the track and hit the garage ceiling which fell down on Ed’s car parked inside the garage. The car looked like it was in a hurricane before Irma had even struck!

3. Laugh and laugh more.
So many funny things happened. Sometimes we laughed uncontrollably because that’s all we could do. Humor, even in the darkest of times, truly helps to keep cortisol down and increase DHEA, the good hormone. It really does help to make you feel better.

4. Packing
Pack at least one week of clothes, two weeks of medication and put your important papers in a ready to go plastic bag. Those papers can be challenging to replace.

5. Buy batteries EARLY!!!
Stock up on batteries way before you need them. Ensure that you have plenty of flash lights at both work and at home. Have backup batteries and car chargers for your phones also. Shortly after arriving in Miami I went shopping for D size batteries and they were nowhere to be found. Luckily I brought some with me from Rhode Island!

6. Duct tape and blue painters tape.
We used it for EVERYTHING! Since we had elders we used the blue tape to highlight steps and areas that would cause tripping. The duct tape was used where we could not use a hammer and nail.

7. Avoid constantly listening to the news.
If we listened we would have never left Miami for Orlando. The traffic reports had us sitting in bumper to bumper traffic. Both up and back we averaged 75 miles an hour with little traffic. So happy I trusted my intuition!

Download hurricane or weather apps to your phone. It was a life saver when tornado warnings showed up on my cousins phone and showed the exact area of the warning. We were able to get the elders in a protected bathroom and gave them pots to put on their heads since we did not have helmets. My dad was wearing a pressure cooker! Later on we found out the tornado hit one block away.

9. Baby wipes
Baby wipes are indispensable and we used them constantly. If you lose water, they are a life saver. I keep them in the car and my office to use as a super quick pick me up for the face and hands.

10. Trust your intuition.
You must use your practical, strategic and tactical thinking for work, life and emergencies! However, ALWAYS check in with your intuition and ask if what you are doing it best thing. It saved the day in a few instances and validated when we were uncomfortable with a decision. There are tools I share in my book, The Enchanted Boardroom, to validate decisions. One we both used was the Sway test. It is a gem of a decision making tool! I also used the Quick Shift technique constantly to stay as grounded as possible. Go to and download it for yourself! More on this topic in the ebook.

11. Communicate and communicate.
Ed and I luckily made an amazing team keeping each other in check. We constantly talked things through and stayed open to each other’s suggestions. We found things for our parents to do while we bounced around securing furniture and property. It’s important to make them feel like they are part of the process. Good teams communicate well. What can you do to improve communication on your teams?

12. Group text.
Set up a group text or phone tree to avoid taking time for individual texts and calls. During emergencies things move too fast and your time is better used posting one text or making one call instead of several times sharing the same thing. Anyone who chooses not to engage because they don’t want to read the texts…well, it’s on them. Don’t bug me…I’m too busy keeping us safe!

13. Buy a generator and test it.
My Orlando cousin did not have a generator and my dad’s was too big to travel with. Luckily, Ed’s friend had an extra one that saved us! It powered the refrigerator, coffee pot, toaster and cell phones. I must give a plug for the Honda EU2000i generator. It was quiet, easy to use and magnificently small for such a power house. So worth the investment!

14. Breathe, hydrate, eat and care for yourself.
If you don’t care for yourself you can’t be there for everyone else. Whether it’s dealing with Mother Nature’s anger or workplace situations, the message is the same; put the oxygen mask on yourself first before helping others.

15. Clean out the frig before evacuating.
When we finally got back into my parents home the stench from food that defrosted and refroze was horrific. We threw everything out, placed tubs of baking soda in the freezer and even put sheets of bounce in there to mask the smell. It kept me up all night. We thought we would have to replace the refrigerator but as of this writing the stench seems to have dissipated.

These are just a few of the many tips that you will read about in an upcoming ebook about surviving a cat 4 hurricane with 80, 92 and 94 year old parents and shuttering and cleaning up three homes. This event showed how communication, preparation, decision making and intuition all had a part in a successful outcome to life’s challenges.

Stay safe and enjoy life!

Terry Wildemann
Author of “The Enchanted Boardroom; Evolve Into An Unstoppable Intuitive Leader” Motivational Press

Phone: 401.849.5900
Twitter: @TerryWildemann
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  • Wendy Fachon
    Posted at 12:32h, 19 September Reply

    I can relate. Our 88-year-old mother had no intention of evacuating from Boynton Beach. My brother Steve helped her button up her house and she moved in with him, ten minutes further inland. Steve set up the group text with all of us, was well stocked up in supplies and a generator. Meanwhile, three more of us had flown out to Chicago for a pre-planned weekend in Chicago to clean out my mother’s second home up there. I was praying for Irma to head back out into the Atlanta, away from EVERYBODY (like last year’s hurricane). The hurricane tracking forecasts were showing Irma to be heading straight for the Miami to West Palm areas, and we decided to call off the move… thinking what if the roof was blown off her Florida house?… maybe she should keep the Chicago home and belongings as a backup. We continued to watch the reports while visiting with extended family and friends in Chicago, and felt horrible about Naples. Mom was VERY lucky! Just a few twigs down and no loss of power… Greatly relieved, we enjoyed a couple more days of walking around beautiful areas of Chicago we had never seen before. What a walkable city!

    • admin
      Posted at 18:31h, 19 September Reply

      Wendy, it was an intense storm. Thrilled your mom and brother are safe!

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