Hurricane Ida’s ferocious winds and rainfall hit southern Louisiana hard. Fortunately, my son Seth came out unscathed. Luck? Some. But he was prepared. As for me, preparing for the unknown was a lesson I learned only later in life.
Regarding Seth, two months back, he moved from boisterous New Orleans to quiet Prairieville, a suburb of Baton Rouge where he earned his master’s degree at Louisiana State University. Careful research led him to a townhouse in a community about as resistant to flood as possible—the site slightly elevated, buildings raised on their foundations, driveway and backyard sloping downhill. Also, he always makes a point of stocking up on non-perishable food along with water.
Seth’s community remained free from flooding. Prairieville’s power eventually went out, but his was restored in 22 hours. Unfortunately, many people still lack electricity and fresh water in heat approaching 90 degrees.
I wish Carolyn and I were better prepared for the major storm that hit San Antonio when we lived there almost 50 years ago. It struck while we were attending Yom Kippur Eve (Kol Nidre) services at Temple Beth-El. By the time the service concluded, the storm began to let up. We figured we’d drive home despite San Antonio’s infamous lack of drainage. “Young” and “foolish” often go together.
We made it two blocks from our apartment and no further. Broadway was a raging river. We pulled into our bank’s elevated parking lot and beneath the roof of a drive-in window. The rain stopped. The temporary river seemed to have crested. We waited.
A woman’s cry roused us. She’d made it out of her VW Beetle before rushing waters swept it away and managed to wedge herself between two utility poles. We pulled her out of the water.
Now, three of us waited. The river went down. In minutes, Broadway was crossable. We took the woman to our apartment where she spent the night. The next day, her husband picked her up. As I recall, she found her car.
Carolyn and I have experienced major winter storms in San Francisco but nothing like Hurricane Ida. As to earthquakes, we’re prepared—now. After the 1989 Loma Prieta quake—our house suffered minimal damage—we called an architect friend. He drew plans to have our house bolted to its foundation and the garage sheer-walled. We also replaced posts supporting overhanging rooms in the back with a wall.
Nature aside, people also are subject to emotional storms. Witness the challenges of marriage. I doubt anyone can fully prepare before a wedding for a lifetime together. But over the years, you learn a few things about preventing or overcoming inevitable storms in your relationship.
You listen, acknowledge your partner’s feelings, cop to your own mistakes, and keep your sense of humor. And you store up the will to obey my 11th Commandment: You shall cut each other some slack.
Tomorrow—September 4—Carolyn and I will celebrate our 52nd anniversary. Every day demands not just addressing problems that may crop up—we’re only human—but also preparing anew to be more understanding and forgiving.
Some days, some people can’t avoid taking a hit. But preparation plays a big role in weathering life’s storms. A small investment in awareness and anticipation can yield big dividends.
To everyone observing the Jewish High Holy Days—and everyone else—may the new year 5782 bring you fulfillment, peace and comfort from the storm.
The blog will take off next week and return on September 17.
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