Lessons Learned from Harvey
Stuart Falknor, HCSS Regional Sales Manager
Everyone seems shocked at how light-heartedly I break the news that we lost our home and three cars in Hurricane Harvey. My wife, teenage daughter, and I started the emotional recovery phase fairly quickly. However, every time we told the story of abandoning our home and walking out of our neighborhood in chest-deep water, we were drug back into the heartache of the event. The truth is that as dire as the situation was in the middle of the chaos, we were lucky. We were losing almost all of our possessions, but I was comforted by several facts:
Our safety was never in doubt, as opposed to some of the images playing out on TV right in front of us. My wife and I never panicked. We were calm enough to make solid decisions throughout the chaos. Forget the big game analogies; there’s no better feeling (after the fact) than knowing you can think and execute under the ultimate pressure of real life.
We were never in danger of financial ruin. This event will cost us hundreds of thousands of dollars, but because of the planning and savings we’ve accomplished over our 30 plus years of working, we had a great base for our recovery. And if I want to decrease the time it takes to pay ourselves back for this huge outlay, I can work harder and longer.
We never felt alone. None of us freaked out at any time during flooding, which allowed us to engage each other and bounce ideas off each other as we planned our next move. My wife and I both have strong families behind us. We had family members close by in better conditions who were ready to help at a moment’s notice. That was comforting. And HCSS and our customers were as understanding and generous as they come. I never worried whether I would have a job after this. Quite the opposite, I knew HCSS was ready to jump in and help with cleanup as soon as we were ready.
I could go on about the lessons we’ve learned, and are still learning, from our experience. But my biggest lesson learned to-date is to accept the help. I’ve always tried to not be a burden on my family, my company, my country, and the “system,” so to speak. I’ve always made sure I put more into the system than I take out, emotionally and financially. Call it pride, call it stubbornness, or call it fear of losing control, but I’ve always been reluctant to accept offers of help or assistance. But I had no choice this time, and it has changed me. The incredible generosity of Christian Aid Ministries, HCSS, our customers, my mom, my father-in-law, and my brother-in-law, cannot be overstated; and I’m not sure I can pay it back in this lifetime. And that’s finally Okay.