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9 Weeks and Counting

Nine weeks, y’all.  It still seems so surreal.

Just last night, I was out with a friend, and we kept saying how we are still shocked that a hurricane of this magnitude hit us.

I hope you’re not tired of reading these updates, but they are important to me for a couple of reasons.

First, just as I did with my recovery from my broken ankle, I want to document the challenges we are facing each week along with the progress we are making.

Second, I want to keep a record of this for the next time this happens because it will.  The Southeast seems to be a magnet for them.  I’m now a member of the clique that calls itself natural disaster victims.  New victims need to be able to read others’ accounts – to see that they have not been overcome by such devastation but have, instead, emerged stronger.

That’s what we are trying to do, nine weeks out.  It’s not easy though.

This past week, I was once again reminded of the lack of medical care currently available.  When I went to the hospital’s wound care center to have my stitches removed, I discovered an unoccupied portable.  All of the doors were locked.  When I called the hospital to ask where to go, they instructed me to visit the outpatient surgery center.  After having my car valet-parked, I was told that I was in the wrong place – that I needed to go back to the ER.

Sigh.

I was embarrassed.  I didn’t need emergency medical care, but this was my only option.  Before they could remove my stitches, they had to take my vitals.

I even got a bracelet.  Yay.

The most basic of tasks are cumbersome.  We live in a constant state of inconvenience.

A friend I work with traveled across the bridge to a bank.  She was going to either deposit her insurance check or get it endorsed.  I can’t remember exactly.  Regardless, the insurance company had not included the full name of the bank, so it couldn’t endorse the check.  She had to send the check back and wait for another check.

Inconvenience.

It’s hard not to lose your patience after awhile – especially because people out of town sometimes don’t understand what an extra week of waiting can feel like.

The Mr. and I went shopping on Saturday.  When I couldn’t find what I wanted at the Dillard’s in town, we decided to go to the mall at the beach.  Oy vey!  There were so many people.  I suspect all of the town people were there for the same reasons we were.  A person can only do so much shopping at Walmart.

Sigh.

The moments of joy we have are tempered with the sadness that randomly hits when we least expect it.

This past week, we learned that one of our hospitals will not be reopening for some time.  Many staff members were laid off.

A day or two later, the news announced that our local mall would not be reopening because the damage was too bad.  Granted, the mall was not the best, but it was right down the road and was easy to run to should the need arise.  Stores like Bed Bath and Beyond, Sears, and JC Penny served as anchors for the mall.  Smaller stores and food court establishments employed quite a few teenagers.

I had no clue how financially devastating a hurricane could be on a community.  The hits just keep coming.

Traffic is still crazy.  Last Thursday, the Mr. and I met friends at one of our favorite restaurants.  Actually, our favorite place was located on our side of the bridge.  We frequented it a couple of times a week.  It was destroyed by the hurricane and won’t be rebuilt.  There’s another site across the bridge, so we were excited.

It took over an hour to get there.  It was a nightmare.  I checked the WAZE app, but every route showed the same traffic headache.

I was so happy to see our friends.  I hadn’t seen the wife since before the storm.  Looking at the restaurant sign made me smile.

We saw a couple of employees we recognized from the town location, and the menu was the same.

The food wasn’t quite as good, though, and the margaritas weren’t as strong.  Our town bartender took real good care of us.  Ha!  We left with a bit of sadness in our hearts, wistful for the way things used to be.

Do you want to know what else is hard about hurricane recovery?  Regular life goes on, and you’re expected to keep up.

This week, I sat at the Toyota place getting a tire fixed (I ran over debris and got a nail in it).

While I was in the waiting area, I was simultaneous reading my students’ essays and sending emails to my district’s higher-ups requesting them to fix my VAM score (a VAM score is how a teacher gets rated).

I spent ALL week juggling professional and personal tasks, and it wore me down – to the point where I shed tears a few times.

Want to hear a funny?  As I sat in the dealership’s showroom, the power went out.  Nobody batted an eye – because we’re kind of used to not having power.

It turned out that a big truck had hit a power pole and had taken out a transformer.  The dealership was out of power until the next day.  Fortunately, my car was off the jack.  They had to email my receipt to me after swiping my credit card through one of those portable box things.

One other thing that happened this past week that caught me off guard was that I had a dream that I was at home when the hurricane hit.  I could see the wind blowing across my yard in the near white-out phase of the storm.  I don’t know if the stress of the week contributed to this or if it was reading my students’ essays, but I woke up very agitated.  I can only imagine what those who actually sat through the storm deal with at times as they process the events of the past two+ months.

So, let’s talk about the positives from the week.

My classroom finally got air conditioning.  It was an amazing feeling!

After dealing with my VAM stuff – a most unpleasant experience – I was feeling pretty low.  My spirits were lifted when this bag of goodies was delivered to my classroom during my planning period . . .

It was accompanied by the sweetest note . . .

Being relocated to another school hasn’t been the easiest.  I can’t even imagine how people feel being displaced from their homes.  This bag of supplies, which I’ve already dug into, became my life preserver that day.

I had been so stressed on Friday that I stopped for a pedicure on the way home.

While I was there, our stump grinding guy came by and took care of eight stumps in our yard.  The Mr. didn’t think to take pictures during the process.  I’m the blogger, not him.  I had talked the stump guy down from $400 to $300 a day or two before.  He wasn’t going to be at our house until mid-week, so his early arrival was a pleasant surprise.

There used to be a beautiful oak tree here.

Once upon a time, a tree sat just outside of Chicky’s window.

The rest of the back yard.

Another source of joy for me was watching my boys play basketball.  I went to the game last Friday night.

Our gym was destroyed by the hurricane, so the kids are having to practice on a half-court owned by a church.  Games cannot be held in our gym, so we are utilizing a neighboring school’s facilities.  Even though we lost Friday’s game, it was fun cheering them on with some of the people I work with.

On the left is a para who was in my classroom eight years ago.  In the center is our Support Employee of the Year.  She’s the sweetest lady!!

I mentioned that my students are writing essays.  One of the sections they have to include must describe some life lessons they’ve learned from the hurricane.

Here are few of mine, nine weeks out:

1.  The federal government, though well-intentioned, is laughable.  It’s mired with so much red tape that nobody can find the end to unravel the knots.  I don’t know of many people who have actually received assistance from FEMA.  We certainly didn’t.  There are hardly any trailers to be had, so friends are scrambling for places to live.  Chartwells, the company that is in charge of feeding our students, is a joke.  They are funded federally and simply don’t care about the food they are giving our kids.  I’ve taken photos of undercooked burgers that were put into sack lunches.  Our kids are afraid to get lunch – that they will get sick – so they are going home hungry.

2.  The people running the SBA (Small Business Association) loan application process are incredible.  We closed on a low-interest loan today thanks to the help of a wonderful employee who walked us through the paperwork.  We will be using the loan to fix what the insurance company doesn’t cover.

3.  I have learned that people are incredibly generous.  At church on Sunday, my pastor announced more donations that had poured in recently.  I’m not sure if I mentioned this before, but one of my high school classmates attends a church in Auburn.  His church has partnered up with ours and has been sending very large donations.  Every time I hear his church’s name, I shed a few tears of thanks.  With it being Christmas time, many toys and other children’s gifts are pouring in from places all over the country.  The kids in our community will have gifts, even if their parents cannot afford to buy them.

4.  I have learned that I can do without a lot more than I ever thought I could.  Being in a small classroom away from my home base has taught me that students don’t need fancy things.  Walking my students through the writing of their essays has been a little overwhelming, but hearing their stories has deepened our relationship.  Sure, we’re working on grammar and all things MLA, but all of that is centered around the content – this catastrophic event that will leave a permanent imprint on all of our lives.

5.  I continue to be reminded that God is my provider.  When I’m at my lowest, He gives me strength.  When I’m disillusioned, He sets my face forward and reminds me what my purpose is.  When I’m tired and overwhelmed, He urges me to rest and gives me a burst of energy afterward to get the job done, whatever that job may be.

Nine weeks out, there is still so much recovering yet to do, but we are making strides.  I, for one, am trying to take things day by day.  I’m trying to focus on the season and enjoy as much of it as I can given the circumstances.

I’m trying to remember to be thankful for what I have.  When my friend walked in to pick me up last night, she commented on how pretty my tree was.

Her words put things into perspective.  She lost her entire house and camper.  She, like so many around here, will be experiencing a very different type of Christmas.

As always, I ask for your prayers as we continue to navigate through uncharted waters.

Will you pray, too, that my contractor calls us to come by for an inspection?  We know that we are on his list, but we don’t know how far down.  I want to hear roofers on top of my house and see people putting up a new fence around my yard.  I am eager to get all of our home repairs started.  These things will happen in due time, but it wouldn’t hurt to pray.  🙂

Thank you so much! ❤

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