natural disaster

What no one tells you about surviving a natural disaster with a chronic illness

For those who don’t follow my Facebook page I live in Texas on the gulf coast and we were just hit by a hurricane. It made landfall hundreds of miles away, but it caused a lot of rain and I do mean a lot. My town was on the national news for receiving the most rain in the shortest amount of time, 50 inches in three days. That’s how much rain we get in an entire year, so as you can imagine there was significant flooding.  Our neighborhood was one of the few that stayed dry (though it got pretty close) so I thought staying up all night 3 nights in a row was the worst I was going to experience. There are a few things I didn’t think about.

Not having access to medication

I had a doctor appointment scheduled during the flood event, but since the roads were under twelve feet of water I obviously didn’t make it. The office was closed so I was unable to get a prescription called in. I ran out of my most important medication and had no options for getting more. Not only was the doctors office closed, there were no pharmacies open either.

This is a huge problem that occurs after a natural disaster that no one talks about. Many people were in worse circumstances than I was. I’m a paranoid person so the minute the water started rising I packed an emergency bag with all my medication in it, but I was lucky because the water rose over several hours. Many of the homes flooded so fast that people were barely able to get out alive, much less with their prescription medication. Now they’re in a shelter going without because there just aren’t enough doctors to keep up with all the medical emergencies.

The stress takes a huge toll on your body

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This was our street after the water went down. As I mentioned we had some stressful nights when the water kept rising and rising. The first night we were awake all night because the water got about 2/3 up our driveway (that doesn’t sound that high, but we are built up above the street. It was probably 5-6 ft of water). There were also multiple tornado warnings so we spent a lot of time huddled in the bathroom. We were on social media at 2:00 am seeing our friends flood in real time. It was awful.

The second night we slept a little bit, but the third night the water came up again. My husband and I slept in shifts so we could keep an eye on the water. It was murder on my body because I was so stressed I couldn’t relax, not to mention the sleep deprivation. I can’t remember the last time I was in so much pain.

Not having access to medical supplies

Maybe this is naive of me, but I did not realize that I wouldn’t be getting mail for weeks (as of right now a week after the storm there is no date set for when we’ll get mail again). I buy all my medical supplies on Amazon, and now I have no access to them. I ran out of the pads for my TENS device (aff link) as well as electrodes for my Quell device. For now I’m trying to stretch my last pair of pads far beyond how they should be stretched. If I could do things over again the minute I heard about a hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico I would order all my supplies, whether I needed them or not. Because now I have no medication and my pain devices are useless. Don’t be like me, think ahead.

You feel helpless when it comes time for recovery

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This is what flood clean up looks like. Only picture this pile in front of every house on the street. After surviving a 1,000 year flood event without a scratch I felt guilty. So many people around us lost absolutely everything. I wanted to go out and help, but as always my body wouldn’t let me do as much as I wanted to. I was able to help clean out two flooded houses as well as do laundry for people who were flooded, but I wanted to do more. I wanted to be out there every day helping, but I couldn’t. I hate feeling helpless on any regular day, but this was far from regular. I do not want to sit around while people are suffering, but I have to.

I hope I never have to go through this again and I certainly hope that none of my readers have to experience something like this. In case you do though, keep some of these things in mind. Learn from my mistakes!

UPDATE 9/12/17

HARVEY2

 

I had some unexpected energy this weekend so I spent some time removing drywall. This house was completely ruined. We took out all the floors, the drywall, and the ceilings. People have been working as fast as possible to get everything ripped out before the mold sets in, but there is still so much left to do.  When hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses flood the recovery takes years so don’t forget us here in Texas.

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5 thoughts on “What no one tells you about surviving a natural disaster with a chronic illness

  1. That is really tough. I am the other side of the world and we also experience floods and earthquakes.
    You helped as best as your body would allow and that is so good esp considering lack of meds, sleep, stress and pain. We feel our good is not enough and easy to feel depressed about BUT we know how hard we are trying and the cost to us and even if others don`t, at least we know. Also you know how much you would help if you good. Our thoughts go out to US when we see the floods and fires and tornadoes on t.v.

  2. I am wondering, can you get opioids ahead of time? I live in NY State and needed a couple scripts a few days early, and they wouldn’t go through. Would they make an exception for severe weather?

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