Where Do We Go From Here?

I have said it here in so many ways – but I have always had a natural disasters phobia.

It’s sort of ridiculous. Not that I have it, but that we don’t all have it, really. It’s ridiculous how many times I’ve had to face my phobias – through earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes – but some phobias are fun to meet and beat, and others probably never will be. Unless the success of NOT having a panic attack is fun for you. It’s always fun for me to overcome.

I don’t like to lose control, or to have never had it to begin with. Roller coasters are (mostly) controlled. Hurricanes are not.

I have quivered my way through my share of disasters, and I have slept through some too. I guess it depends. When you’re me, and you’re already working through so many issues and fears within the frame of your own life, it’s sort of staggering to work through your own issues against the backdrop of uncertainty and enormity. You know what I always do, though? I rise to meet and beat and defeat. And when it’s so much bigger than me, and it’s always bigger than me, I’ll never stop trying.

Now is the time, and it’s always been the time, and it won’t be the last time either.

I wrote this post over six years ago, after my town was hit by Hurricane Irene:

There are reasons I live in New England.

1. Moose
2. Real maple syrup
3. Greenery
4. Vermont Cheddar Cheese
5. Feeling somewhat safe from the apocalypse

We have proven over the last few months that we do get tornadoes, earthquakes and hurricanes, and sometimes all of the above around the same time. And I’ve probably proven to you that I’m an anxious person. I do fairly ok in these situations.

I’ve been through four earthquakes, that I know about. I didn’t even notice last week’s 5.8er but I probably would have had I not been distracted. Before that I slept through one in San Francisco that Cassidy noticed. Before that I experienced one at work in San Francisco, staring dizzily at my fork clinking on my plate of quiche, not quite realizing it was an earthquake until after it had passed. And before that, there was a minor, minor one in Jersey when I was in college and I woke up with a start at 3:00 am and watched my old clay figurines shake on my desk. Why I woke up with a start to the most minor earthquake of my existence yet slept/distracted myself through three bigger ones? Who knows.

I’ve been through a rare New Jersey tornado, huddled in my grandparents’ basement.

I’ve been through a strange tropical storm in New Brunswick, NJ that canceled two days of classes, when not even snow had ever canceled college classes. Only September 11th and this strange tropical storm canceled classes.

I’ve been through a few major blizzards, but they never seemed strange because they always happened in places that expect to get blizzards. Blizzards are probably more deadly than anything else I’ve been through, but I was the least scared.

I’ve been through the nearby explosion of a gunpowder plant – a deadly explosion that took place on a painfully sunny day in the summer. This was way before the days of internet, cell phones, and social media, and no one knew what had happened for over a day. The rumor was that it was a sonic boom, which we all took at face value until we learned the truth.

Now in our age of over-information, we sat glued to the news, Facebook and Twitter for the last several days. We bought bottled water, filled the bathtub, gassed up the car, took out extra cash, charged our cellphones, and sat and braced for the worst. It may have seemed like overkill, but I guess after Hurricane Katrina, it’s better to take these precautions.

My town, Northampton, put up a flood control gate for Hurricane Irene right at the bottom of our street. I admit I thought they were being silly. Of course, they knew what they were doing. Last night we watched the news and watched “Doctor Who.” I was nervous. We went to bed tentatively glancing out the windows and listening to rain, and then woke up nervously today to discover that New York City had made it through and the storm was coming for us next.

I won’t downplay anything. New England is fairly safe and our earthquakes, hurricanes and tornadoes (but not blizzards!) are rarely very bad, but I know a lot of the east coast took some hits. I know those hits are still coming. We didn’t even realize our own town had had much of a storm until we left the house. To us, it was a fairly normal rainy day. We suffered no damage up on the the hill of our street. Then the storm passed, the sun even came out and we went exploring.

This is the other side of the gate at the bottom of our street. It seems that the bottom of the street got hit a lot more than us. They were right to put up the gate. We just didn’t know until we knew. This water is dangerously high.

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We even played outside with the neighbors. The sun was shining and the air was crisp and fresh and unexpected.

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They don’t even really know what has happened, but we do.

I’ve had a heaviness in my heart and a sick feeling in my stomach all day. The horror stories of Vermont, a place of heavy meaning to me and also a place I’ve always associated with safety (despite the horrendous blizzard I survived there). Seriously, Mother Nature means business. No matter how minor the natural disasters I’ve been through were, they were still disasters. Yet, I was never very scared before, except for the tornado incident but that’s another story. Mainly, I was not yet a parent. As a parent, all bets are off. I will never laugh at the over-preparation and I will participate as much as possible. I am forever humbled by this experience, and we didn’t even get hit! We could, in the future. And I bet we will.

May you all lie down safe and dry tonight, and always.

I’m linking up, as one of my favorite things to do, with Finish The Sentence Friday or #FTSF. This week’s topic is “When it comes to natural disasters…” And there’s time to write yours. Come link up with your spin on the matter: HERE.

What would you say?

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  1. I have lived through a few natural disasters myself including a tornado while I was working at a camp summers back. Nothing can quite ever compare with being stuck under a carnival-like lunch tent with kids that weren’t even’t in kindergarten just yet. I also will never forget Hurricane Sandy and the over 100 mph winds that rocked us for 2 days here leaving us and many without power for a few weeks. So trust me, my anxiety runs high when I do recall all of that. I just keep crossing my fingers that we are spared another major storm such as those at least this year right now as I am just on edge thinking about it in all honesty. So wishing us all safety and direness, too right now.

  2. Holy, you’ve been through so many natural disasters, Tamara! Scary. Flooding is the scariest to me. We are susceptible to earth quakes here. I’ve been through some minor ones. The scariest natural disaster I experiences was the tornado in 1987 that ripped through Edmonton, Alberta. Unforgettable.

    Love those pics of Scarlet. She’s such a beautiful child!

  3. This is a very timely post. We had Irma last week. It got downgraded to tropical storm when it hit us, but it was enough to knock down our fence on both sides of our yard, parallel to each other. Apparently, a solid almost-or maybe even a tornado- came through our backyard. Thankfully, I had evacuated to my in-laws since my husband was in London……Then he happened to be riding their rails all week, and bam! There was a subway explosion terrorist attack this morning. Groooooaaaaaaan. Alan texted me that he was okay before I had to hear it on the news. Phew! Gracious. Sometimes I feel invincible. Sometimes I feel like a little ant surviving like all get out.

  4. Those are all reasons I love New England, too! Even down here in PA, we are relatively sheltered from most natural disasters and severe weather. Such events are a rarity here. It seems foreign to me that people in other places have to face that on a regular basis. I honestly don’t know how they do it.

  5. Wow you have been through a lot. I have been through many earthquakes here in California. So scary with the hurricanes and storms that are happening. Although now more than ever, none of us seem safe with all that is going on in the world.

  6. I haven’t had much experience with natural disasters. We had a dorecho once that knocked out all the power for a week and a tree fell on our fence, but that’s about it. I remember being underneath our desks in school for tornado warnings though. I love your photos as always!

  7. I’ve lived through a few natural disasters, too, and thankfully, we’ve had little damage. I enjoy snuggling in during a big storm, but I’m always sad when a storm causes damage.

  8. I have been through a few in my lifetime as well. My earliest was a volcanic eruption. I was about 3 years old and I can still remember it as if it was yesterday, the ashes falling all around us. I’ve been through tropical storms all while living in the Caribbean. In the US, so much more, as recent as this past Spring when we had a major windstorm that destroyed houses, vehicles and other property. I don’t like things I can’t control but being prepared truly helps.

  9. I completely understand. I definitely don’t laugh at overpreparing, even though I would say that I don’t compared to others. I’m reasonable. I buy what we need and what we could use after the event. I totally forgot you spent time in SF. Natural disasters are incredible, aren’t they?

  10. Oh wow! Staying safe and dry is kind of the important thing now for a lot of states, and also getting those fires put out!

    So sad story, about a month ago I re-tasted real maple syrup and loved it. The sad part is I remember tasting it as a child and not liking it. Crazy!

  11. With all the terrible natural disasters that have hit recently, I keep saying I’ll take the long, blizzard-filled New England winters over the rest of them. It’s frightening! (And I have an irrational fear of tornados, have had several dreams about them.) Irene was a week before my wedding, and though thankfully it didn’t impact us too hard, I remember that it caused a tree to fall down and bend a metal picnic table in half in the garden at the synagogue where Sam and I got married. (Made for an interesting photo-op!) And that crazy tropical storm that hit Jersey (was it in ’99?) I remember in canceling school like a week in, and our backyard getting flooded.

  12. When we were in Oklahoma, we always had the thread of tornadoes. It could get frightening at times, but we got lucky. Now we’re in Texas and we’re far away not to have to worry about hurricanes, but sometimes there is a thread of tornado. But it’s rare.

  13. You have been through a LOT! The best thing you can do is be as prepared for any storm as possible. Whenever we have a snowstorm/hurricane/whatever coming through, I usually buy the entire grocery store as if I wasn’t leaving for 7 weeks. All of a sudden I get the urge to bake all the things, and have ALL the options!

  14. I hope you guys don’t get hit with Maria – so many hurricanes making landfall this year. Our town is still recovering from the huge flood in July 2016, but the human spirit is more resilient than our buildings and roads.

    Oh my how little Scarlet is! That little toddler belly – is there anything better?

  15. I have a phobia about earthquakes. I think it’s the fact that you have no idea they’re about to strike, so you can’t prepare. I’m so worried one will happen while my family isn’t together, and then how will be find each other again. I honestly can’t think about it too much or I get all worked up. What will be will be.

  16. These last two weeks have been tough, what with Irma and now Maria lambasting the islands near my homeland, St. Kitts. Brought back harsh memories of Hurricane Hugo in 1989. I don’t wish a category 4 hurricane on my worst enemy!

  17. Good read! My country is always, always hit by storms but fortunately for me or my family, nothing really bad happened where I live. But I feel bad for those who live in places that really get hit by storm every time, it’s so hard for people to leave. We’ve learned so much from disasters as a country. I agree, we can be over-prepared all we want, and it’s okay. I guess it’s all about preparations and knowing what to do when these natural disasters come.

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