Photo Credit: 403rd Wing
We are living in the early aftermath of many days of rain and the threat of flooding. For some it was worse than for us. It was nothing compared to the flooding we’ve seen in other parts of the country.Photo Credit: WikimediaPhoto Credit: 403rd Wing
Still, for us, it was a quick study on what it must be for others who experience such a crisis and its aftermath. In small measure, but same lessons.
Our basement is both a storage space and living area. We, in fact, do a lot of life there…with friends and grandkids. The storage consists of 1) boxes of our memorabilia from our years of travel and our children’s growing up, and 2) boxes of stuff from my Mom’s estate, given to us but as yet unboxed…until now.
When we discovered water coming into our basement from an over-saturated yard, on Friday night, we had to act fast or we don’t know how high it would have risen. Dave, our youngest son, and I began the work of dealing with a relentless flow of water into spaces it wasn’t welcome. Our son-in-law and older son came and we worked for hours attempting various diagnostics and maneuvers to stop the water and hold it back. It was exhausting work. Finally, sometime in the middle of the night, the water stopped coming in.
[My husband was supposed to have been at a work conference far from home, but other circumstances kept him here. You can imagine how thankful I am that he was home for all of this.]
When the rain stopped, we began the drying out process…and the cleanup. The work of making our basement into the friendly, happy space it was is almost disorienting. Hard to know where to start.
It will all happen. We are so fortunate. Now, more than before, we have an inkling of understanding of what others have gone through suffering tremendous crisis…like losing their furnishings and more in a flood.
In a quiet moment since Friday night, when we were taking a break, we marveled at what happens in human response to crisis. I’ve participated in crisis management throughout my career, and in our microcosm experience this weekend, we saw those practices at work…without even thinking about it.
Who Is Involved in a Crisis Response?
1) Crisis manager – the person in charge; the one running the crisis response; the one who knows what’s happening where and has all that in his head
2) Secondary managers – the persons who could be in charge but are working themselves on a piece of the operation
3) Frontliners – those with or without crisis manager skills but who have a piece of the response; the ones counted on to persevere in their tasks until they’re told to do something else.
4) Supply Line – the ones who by the nature of their skillset (or lack thereof) or physical ability who support all the above – the “go-fers”, the bringers of food, water, tools, encouragement. These, like the crisis manager, have the purview of the whole crisis and how each person is responding. They also, because they don’t have the stress of leadership, may see more clearly the toll on the individuals. They influence by alleviating stress through the supply line or by stating need to the manager (for rest or relief for frontliners, for instance).
5) Lastly, the Persons in crisis – they may very well be a part of the above, as was our situation. They carry the brunt of the crisis and its longer term impact. They also may not have capacity to respond to the needs of those around them, also in crisis [this was hard for me personally, knowing others we loved also having water issues.]
Crises show what we are made of, but they also show us our capacity and our potential. We’ve all responded to crises. What did we discover about ourselves? Sometimes we hesitate to respond to crises because of past negative or difficult experiences. Yet, we see those, who become our heroes, run (not away from danger but) into danger for someone’s sake. Every single time. Photo Credit: GeauxGuard
How do we become more like them in responding to danger (or crisis)?
- We see the possible outcome as greater than the cost.
- We build capacity by continuing to stay open to the smaller daily crises of each day (this helps me).
- We learn from our heroes – not just about courage but about skillsets and thinking and even community-building.
- We lean on each other, and (if you will) on God in crisis. All we can do ourselves is not always enough. Being in community and keeping our faith in a living God help us endure crisis and manage it, helping others.
It is much easier for me to write these thoughts than to do the next round of clean-up. All the wet cardboard went out this morning with our recycling. Now it’s what do I keep and where do I put it…Stuff. There is our treasure and there is stuff meant to be someone else’s treasure…none of it should stay forever in cardboard boxes.
The real crisis is over. The fatigue and “let-down”* will pass. The best part of it all was the human part. To work into the night with family who love each other willing to drop what they were doing and come. Working together, even though we are all people of strong opinions; dropping that for the sake of the work and each other. This was, for us, the greatest impact and power of this crisis. We are grateful.
Photo Credit: Sifan Xu, ScienceDirect