We have to find our new normal.
We heard that over and over after Hurricane Florence came through our area in mid-September.
It’s still talked about, what our new normal is.
But it doesn’t feel like anything is normal yet.
Our neighbors talk about how random the destruction was. How one house could have made it through just fine while the next sustained so much damage that it’s still unliveable. And I mean literally- the next house over or the one directly across the street. A few of our neighbors had their homes destroyed and have moved away, some temporarily and others for good.
Families have been displaced and are still looking for a more permanent place to stay.
Families who lost everything.
Tarps covering roofs are still a common sight, as are belongings laid out by the curb, awaiting pick up. Plenty has been hauled away, but not all of it.
Trees remain down and not cleared away.
There are businesses that still haven’t reopened.
The kids were out of school from September 10th through either late October or early November, depending on the severity of the damage done to their schools.
And while I’m glad the state excused 20 of those days, meaning we won’t have to have school all the way through the summer to make up for every day that was missed, there’s an entire month of school that was simply skipped. And if you consider that they’d only gone to school for 10 days before schools were canceled in preparation for the hurricanes and were just barely starting to get into a routine, that’s another chunk of time lost this year, while the students are still expected to learn the same amount of material.
We’re usually nearing the end of the first semester by this point in the school year while this year, we haven’t even hit the end of the first “nine weeks” (in quotes because I have no idea how long each grading period actually is this year).
I guess we’re finally at a point where the kids are settling in again… but it’s almost Christmas, so we’ll start all over again in the new year.
Their schools aren’t the same either, with some classrooms and the gyms in their schools still not able to be used.
Even though it’s nearing Christmas, it doesn’t feel like it because it feels like we skipped over so much of what usually happens in the fall. Some of what we missed seems silly in the grand scheme of things (like no state fair field trip for middle school or no fall festival for the elementary school) but it feeds into the feeling that nothing is normal and that our timelines are all out of whack.
And things that happened before the hurricane feel like a million years ago. And everything is broken down into “before the hurricane” and “after the hurricane.”
That this year will forever be talked about as “oh, yeah, that was the year of Hurricane Florence” when we’re explaining some odd occurrence in our lives.
My family was one of the “lucky ones,” since we came out through the storm with no damage to our home. I don’t need any sort of sympathy or help to recover what was lost in the storm. But it doesn’t mean that I feel “normal” yet, either.
And while those who live in the path of the storm probably have similar feelings or more compelling stories to tell than I do, I’m sharing this for those whom Hurricane Florence was simply a story on your news for a few days and then you forgot about it or figured that we’d all gotten past it by now. To let you know it’s not as simple as that.