Today exactly one year ago, Houston lived one of the largest natural disasters in the history of the city and even of the whole country. It’s been 365 days of tireless struggle for thousands of people who still fail to recover. We all have a story to tell, many of them accompanied by tears. However, today we realize that we are stronger than we thought, and that we are a city much more united than we imagined.
"It's not what happens to you, but how you react to it, what really matters"- Epictetus
This sentence will stay with me forever, as it was really what Harvey left me. I had never experienced an emergency of that magnitude before and despite believing that I was ready with all the necessary provisions, I never thought that a circumstance of such uncertainty would transcend me emotionally as this hurricane did.
Living through this experience had an emotional impact on my kids too and that’s why after the storm I wrote this article - How to help your kids cope emotionally after Harvey - in collaboration with a very dear psychologist friend, Ariadne Papacostas.
Thanks to it I understood that natural disasters can have a strong emotional impact on those who are affected by them, because they alter our beliefs about our safety and the degree of control we have on it, and children are not the exception to it.
Click here for book recommendations for kids and adults about natural disasters.
With these tools, I was able to start an emotional reconstruction work in my house so that my children would feel safe again and learn to verbalize their feelings in similar situations. A life-lesson that I’m sure will be very useful to them in any adverse situation they face in the future.
During those weeks of uncertainty and chaos, communicating with my family and friends was key to be able to calm our nerves a bit and to ask for advice so we could try to make the best possible decisions with the information we had that changed minute by minute.
I cannot count the number of calls and texts that my husband and I exchanged with our family in Mexico to reassure them that we were out of danger, as this news traveled the world.
Calls to our neighbors, that despite not knowing many, we joined forces and tried to keep that communication line open.
Calls to our friends, who have become family after living more than 15 years in Houston and from which we’ve always received unconditional support.
Communication was definitely what kept us afloat, literally, during those moments of uncertainty.
That’s why today I've partnered with Verizon to share with all of you their five recommendations to have all our electronic devices ready during hurricane season.
1. Charge your devices before a storm hits, including smartphones, laptops, tablets, flashlights, and radios. To preserve battery life, always dim the background light and turn off apps using data or Wi-Fi.
2. Create a list of emergency phone numbers and email addresses, including police, fire agencies, electricity companies, insurance providers, and family and friends. Save them on your phone and also ensure you have a hard copy.
3. Text instead of calling. When communicating during an emergency, opt for brief text messages rather than voice calls. Texts are likely to get through quicker in a crisis.
4. Program your phone to receive emergency alerts. Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEAs) are free wireless notifications delivered to your mobile device as part of a public safety system.
5. Download important apps in advance. Some of our favorites include The Weather Channel, American Red Cross Hurricane app, and AccuWeather app.
Verizon’s performance During Harvey was really impressive:
• 98% of network facilities remained operational during Harvey.
• They supported 5 shelters in Texas with charging stations, phone and internet access for displaced residents.
• More than 200 employees engaged in recovery efforts.
• 1.8 million customers in impacted areas were offered free data for 20 days.
I hope we have a calm and quiet Hurricane season this year. Although nothing could have ever prepared me for a hurricane of Harvey's magnitude, I'm ready because I know that in this city we have each other's back and that's why I'm so proud to call Houston my home away from home.