So, how’s everyone holding up? I have a feeling you’re not admitting the real truth, even to yourselves. I have seen people with cheery dispositions but who are passive-aggressively hurting themselves by not moving forward on a productive course. I’ve also seen others who seem fine, until a spark of anger is released. The bottom line is, it’s a tough time and I think everyone needs to give themselves allowance to grieve their lost objects, admit it’s been stressful, and acknowledge that things will not be the same for quite some time. This is not to negate the gratitude to Hashem for all we do have, most importantly our lives and those of our family, and gratitude to the community for all its chesed. As that old TV tune goes, “You take the good, you take the bad, you take them both and there you have the facts of life…”
My story was thankfully short. My house was not damaged by flooding, though the water came frighteningly close. We lost electricity for an extended time and after a few days of braving it out at home, we accepted the invitation of friends to come for Shabbos. Then we became the Shabbos guests who don’t leave, with their full approval. The neighborhood had gotten scarier and scarier as more people abandoned their homes, more nights passed without streetlights, and more burglaries took place. Being with a warm and friendly hosting family was terrific but for people who are used to always paving their own way, it’s hard to depend on others for your needs, all of a sudden. I can’t overestimate how giving and caring the family was. But still, I always had the feeling of not wanting to be a burden and to be helpful and pay her back in any way possible. And of course, their schedule became our schedule. This is why I urge anyone who is still living with host families to please consider finding temporary housing. If you know it will take upwards of a month or so, contact Achiezer about FEMA payments and begin the process. Let your family feel like a mentch again. I think it’s the first step to rebuilding, physically, and emotionally.
I have noticed how time consuming this hurricane has become. For someone used to moving at the height of efficiency, suddenly I felt like a snail stuck in molasses. Without power, I had to go out to do laundry, bathe the children, etc. These things take less than a half hour of actual work at home, but outside, it can take a whole day. The gas lines also took a whole day. I was lucky to avoid them and subsist on my pre-storm gas and do more walking, which also takes longer. Baruch Hashem we have power, and even gas again. But for those rebuilding their homes, I notice it can be a full time job. While some families already had one member staying home who unfortunately now carries this burden of planning out and supervising all the reconstruction, some families had both parents working and I just don’t know how they can handle this added job. Hopefully schools and places of business can continue to be patient, as they have been so far, with people dealing with this added stress.
One final thought I had was regarding the timing of the hurricane. Yes, it was while we learned in the parashah about the chesed of Avraham and the lack of chesed of Sdom. In the secular world, it was also right around Election Day. I think it was a great reminder that no matter who is president, we have one Ultimate King.