September 20, 2017

Hurricane Irma - School Family Reunion

It is really tough around here.

We’re going on day 12 without power. It is so hot outside. Our houses are 89 degrees with all the doors and windows open. People are hot, sticky and crabby. They’ve been eating canned food and tuna for almost two weeks. Our grocery stores shelves are empty. Restaurants and fast food are closed. There isn’t enough gas to go around. We haven’t had school for a week and a half and kids are driving their parents up the wall. Tensions are high in these parts of Florida.

Before Irma, we had only been in school three weeks. We are missing 12 full school days because Irma decided to throw a hissy fit and slam into us head on. We are pretty much starting the year over again.

I’ve been through hurricanes before, they are usually no big deal. I’ve never seen anything like this one. Irma was one of a kind.

There was so much build up to this storm that people were terrified even before we knew for sure it was going to hit us. She was supposed to hit us Monday. School was cancelled the prior Thursday and Friday so that we had time to prepare. Many people left that Wednesday immediately after school and drove out of state. Many waiting in some serious traffic since there are only a few roads that lead out of Florida. People were really scared and it caused some chaos.

I have never been scared during a hurricane. This time was different. I own a home this time. I have a five month old this time. I was terrified. Figuring out what to do to best protect baby, securing our home, removing everything from outside, packing up everything that is irreplaceable; it was hectic. 

We were as ready as we could be. We packed up, said goodbye to the house and headed to my parents a few days before my area was under orders for mandatory evacuations.
To make a long story short. My husband, four month old, our dog and I bounced around to five different locations over the course of two weeks. Once we left our home, it was 14 days before we were able to come back again. My street did not have power for 12 full days. It was traumatic.  

I was traumatized as a grown adult I cannot even imagine how my students are feeling. What they’ve been through? What have they seen and experienced? Did they have damage? Where are they living? Are they eating?

It’s been rough around here. Are they okay?

I am so thankful that I have a principal who is asking herself the same questions. Today, she invited all the kids to come to school for a Welcome Back Bash (Wednesday, school starts Monday). People could come by check out the school, ease their worries and know it is going to be okay. Also they could escape the heat for a bit since school had full power already and many homes still did not.

We had a few different stations set up around school. There was a supplies station where we passed out uniforms and backpacks to anyone that had damage and needed them. That way everyone would be ready to move forward and just focusing on getting back to normal on Monday.

There was a free books station where everyone could take home a book or two and a games/crafts station where everyone could just have fun and hang out together in the cool AC.

My co-counselor and I passed out tips to parents that will help them to talk to their kids about the hurricane. We were able to talk to a few parents and identify a few kids who are having a tough time dealing with Irma’s aftermath and really need some help.

It was really great to see those kids. It was really great to see their smiles as they showed off their new books and backpacks and became energized about coming back.

It was really great to come together and have a big school family reunion. Man I love those kids. I am really thankful I had the opportunity to see them and know they are safe. I am really glad that I have a principal who does too.

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1 comment:

  1. I am so sorry for the damage and trauma that hit your area. Thoughts and prayers to you as you all slip back into the comfortable familiarity of school days, while picking up the pieces at home.