Incase you haven’t heard the news yet: South Carolina is underwater.
We (Geoff, my kids, our cats, and I) are safe. Our apartment complex and vehicle have, so far, not sustained any damage.
Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for many of my friends, neighbors, and the rest of the state. A storm completely unrelated to Hurricane Joaquin has dropped a couple of feet of rain on our state. That isn’t an exaggeration. At one point, the center of the state was receiving over an inch of rain per hour for nearly an entire day. 7 people (so far) have lost their lives. Countless have lost their homes and material possessions. It’s one of those scary yet surreal situations you never imagine yourself to be in. When you hear the President on the news declaring a State of Emergency, it’s always a sad situation for someone else, not for you.
And again, it feels surreal because from my desk, in my warm, dry apartment, I look outside and simply see some really wet grass. But elsewhere in my town things look like this:
And worse, elsewhere in the state, things look like this:
This incredibly introspective phase I’ve been going through lately (third life crisis?) has hit me hard with this storm. It’s fascinating to log onto Facebook, and simultaneously see friends ranting and raving about poor customer service at Starbucks while others are posting photos of family members placing sandbags around their home to try and hold back the rising water from entering and destroying their home. One person fears their 5K they are traveling to might be canceled because of floods, while another fears they won’t have a home to go back to. The dichotomy between materialistic, first world problems versus life altering catastrophic events is painful to watch.
But I’m certainly not innocent.
I think back to all of the other catastrophic events that have happened, even over just the last 6 months. Wildfires destroying homes. Shootings, taking innocent lives. Refugees fleeing for their lives, risking death simply to try and give their children a better life. War. Starvation. Famine. It’s happening every single day. And here I am complaining that Myrtle Beach doesn’t have enough trees for my liking, or that no one down here seems to know how to accommodate a vegetarian beyond fried jalapeno poppers and a house salad.
It’s so hard to be sympathetic, or even more so, empathetic, when these situations aren’t happening to you. And with sad things happening so frequently in our society, it’s sometimes easier to separate yourself from those events. I personally call it “Heather’s Happy Bubble”. I avoid the news more often than not because it leaves me feeling so angry, sad, and helpless. So I certainly don’t blame the Starbuck hating, 5K worrying crowd, because perhaps they are doing the same. But personally, this storm not only hitting close to home, but HITTING my home, has been another eye opener for me.
A reminder that Mother Nature is a fickle, unforgiving woman who takes pity on no one. And more so, that life can change in a second.
So cherish the important things. Your family. Your health. Your friends. You get the idea.
Live your life to the fullest, TODAY. Don’t wait for tomorrow.
And most importantly, laugh. Because fickle, unpredictable, and sometimes terrifying as it may be, life is still an incredible journey. And we are all so lucky to have the opportunity to live it.
If you would like to help out the victims of this storm, please consider one of the following options:
1) VOLUNTEER. If you are local, consider volunteering your time. There are a number of ways you can help, from assisting in shelters, to the physical labor that will most likely be necessary to help clean up our state once this water begins to recede. Please check out this page for more information on volunteering: http://www.weather.com/news/news/south-carolina-flood-help-red-cross
2) DONATE. Those who would like to help but are unable to volunteer on the ground in South Carolina can make a contribution to American Red Cross Disaster Relief online or at 1-800-REDCROSS. Red Cross shelters in South Carolina will provide victims with meals and a dry safe place they can stay for the duration of the catastrophic floods. There are current more than 60 Red Cross staff members and volunteers working in the state with more incoming.
The Salvation Army is working to support communities up and down the East Coast responding to the recent flooding. On Saturday, the Salvation Army had spaces available as needed in shelters throughout South Carolina and began working with local agencies to give out food and water to displaced people. You can donate to the Salvation Army’s East Coast flood relief efforts online or by texting STORM to 51555. If you text, you’ll receive a message with a direct link for the organization’s mobile donation platform.
Many positive thoughts, strong vibes, and prayers sent out to those who were hit the hardest during this storm.