• Diandra Jones

Disaster Survivors: How You Can Apply Your Experience to a Pandemic

To those of you who have survived catastrophic natural disasters, you know too well the feeling of preparing for something unpredictably monstrous. You have tread this uncomfortable path of deciding whether or not to heed warnings, as you watch the endless media feed of sensationalized reports, and you have personally balanced your own reactions of fear, logic, or even ambivalence.

If you've long resided in areas prone to natural disasters, you may at times have even enjoyed the sweet relief of climbing from your hiding place unharmed, spared from a direct hit, and maybe even thought to yourself, "Wow, I totally overreacted."

But you probably have also had the experience of narrowly escaping terrible harm and said, "Wow, that was close."

These extreme, rare, close-calls you have experienced, these brushes with death at the hands of Mother Nature, have made you stronger, smarter, and have bonded you in unimaginable ways with others who have suffered the same--whether in your immediate community or across the globe.

You KNOW what it means to make the international news as "those poor people across the world that just got hit by _________." You know that the worst predictable scenario CAN and DOES happen sometimes. You know, because it has happened to YOU.

Now is the time where your rare and extreme experiences can come in most handy. The entire global community is facing a slow-moving natural disaster. Like a hurricane pummeling its way through your home, COVID-19 is tearing through our shared home, planet Earth. While we all may be in various stages of its impact, depending on where we live, we can apply our lessons learned from Irma or Maria or Dorian or Katrina, or wildfires in Australia or California, or tornadoes in Tennessee, and we can encourage our families, friends and neighbors to please take heed.

Imagine a hurricane has just shattered the first window in your house. Up until this point, you have been hiding in your bedroom with your family, but now you know it's time to bunker in the bathroom. You wouldn't wait until the hurricane blows the door off your bedroom or rips the roof from above your heads. You would move into your safe place NOW. And NOW, that is exactly what we all must do-- move into our safe places.

If you haven't already, heavily supply your home and stay there. You wouldn't step out during a hurricane to grab something to eat, or catch up with an old friend, so don't do it now. Social distancing is our only weapon against impending catastrophe. And, unlike hurricanes, there is NO chance that COVID-19 will change course and veer away from us at the last minute. The very nature of the virus guarantees rapid and widespread, unless WE halt it, through social distancing.

In fact, we have MUCH MORE CONTROL over stopping this pandemic, than we do a hurricane.

If you have already moved to your safe place, and are staying home, please encourage those you love to do the same. This is the only way we are going to slow this slow-moving natural disaster from getting worse. Isolate yourself and protect your neighbors. If we, the survivors of unprecedented natural disasters, cannot manage to do this, not only have we clearly not learned our lessons, but we are failing to use our experience, our "second-chance," to protect our communities, near and far.

Now is the time to apply the wisdom you gained from a horrific experience to prevent yet another horrific experience. Your voice is invaluable. Your knowledge is indispensable. And if we all take necessary precaution, may the best case scenario be our climbing from our hiding places one month from now, saying: "Wow, that was close."

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