By | March 17, 2011

In 2004, I came to understand what it feels like.1

The day after Hurricane Ivan was the worst. We knew it would be bad, but didn’t know what to expect. The drive home that usually took 30 minutes took us most of a day because many of the bridges and roads were washed away. We parked several blocks from our street and walked over rubble, over debris, over the bits and pieces that used to be the lives and memories of our friends and neighbors. We came home to a house, mostly roofed, mainly ruined, and started the task of dragging the soggy remains of our bottom floor to the curb.

For over a month, we had no electricity. For almost as long, we had no running water. We waited in lines for hours hoping to get gas, to get meals, to get help from someone, anyone, who might be able to help us get back a bit of normal.

The little things were the worst. Watching out-of-towners drive down the street, craning necks and taking pictures of our misery. Watching scavengers dig through the piles of the things we lost for bits they could resell to some unwitting soul. Watching one neighbor finally have enough and take a hatchet to the furniture and belongings growing mold in the yard so that the scavengers would finally go away for good. Living with the feeling that the rest of the world had moved on and forgotten about our suffering.

The little things were the best. Like the neighbor who ran an extension cord from his generator to our house so we could run a fan at night. Or the one who happened upon two bags of ice and shared one with us. And the nights of sitting outside, no lights save the stars, as we visited with friends and grilled the last of the semi-frozen remains from our collective kitchen freezers.

And yet.

What I understand isn’t even remotely on the level of what Japan is facing now. The misery I lived can’t begin to compare.

So, I’ve done my part and donated to the Red Cross relief fund.2¬†Without their assistance, my life and the lives of my neighbors in the fall of 2004 would have been too much to bear. I want to make sure the care I was shown during the toughest time I could imagine will be given to others in need.

I hope you’ll consider doing the same.

  1. The photo of our belongings rotting on the curb was taken about 4 weeks after the hurricane. It took almost another month before the debris was finally removed. []
  2. You can also donate directly through iTunes []


Val on March 17, 2011 at 9:25 am.

What a terrible thing to have to go through. This sure brought the problems across the world, closer to home for me. Thank you for sharing.


Christine on May 9, 2011 at 5:04 pm.

So so so true! It was a nightmare but NOTHING like what others face. I did a sock drive at school. We shipped two large boxes filled with new cute fun socks to a shelter. It’s winter in Japan…most of the clothing people had was washed away…socks were easy :)


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