Coping With (Not-So) Distant Disasters

I was going to do a post on our most recent holidays this week, but under the circumstances, and given the fact that many of the places are under water at the moment due to record-breaking flooding, I thought it might be a tad out-of-place.

This has been a difficult few days. With family in every part of the flooded areas, (and being so far away), we have been relying on social media, the odd phone call and news services to find out how family and friends are going. We’ve heard funny stories, scary stories and terrifying stories.

It has had a greater impact on the kids than other disasters they have heard about, mainly because they know many of their family and friends are slap bang in the middle of it all.

It has lead to some adorable confusion – little J has insisted that we make sure that everyone knows to take their umbrellas when they go outside.

C has coped in his own way – telling stories about worst disasters (yes, he watches National Geographic), and watching the footage of the houses washing away in Dungog on repeat. As well as obsessing on the Bureau of Meteorology website about rainfall, wind-speed and rain radars.

I’ve also had to spend a bit of time reassuring poor little J that none of the houses were her uncles house. Her geography is a little rusty … (though not too rusty – he could see flood waters all around his house).

They’ve also been able to talk to their grandma, who in her wonderful upbeat way has been digging trenches in thunderstorms to stop her house flooding, and cooking dinner on a portable charcoal BBQ (GF pancakes!).

View from Tocal from a few weeks ago.
For what it looks like now
(from the line of trees on the other side),

One of the things that has been brought home is that my kids absorb more of what we watch than we think. Usually we limit their access to news as it’s quite disturbing. But seeing pictures of cafes, shops and locations they were at only weeks ago flooded kind of brings it home. And yet, they have a right to know – it’s places they know and people they care about.

Last night I had to spend a bit of time soothing little J and assuring her that everyone was safe ( by name), and that they all had their umbrellas as she went to sleep.

For the next few days, we will be spending a little time not just checking that our loved ones are OK, but helping the kids understand and deal with what they have watched and heard.

One of the great resources I have found is the Sesame Street videos on storm disasters that helps kids process what has happened in a way that is familiar and reassuring.

Of course, all this is nothing compared to what so many people are going through at the moment in the Hunter, Central Coast, Sydney and Illawarra regions. But it is a timely reminder that my kids are barometers for family emotions and sponges who absorb everything that is happening.

3 Replies to “Coping With (Not-So) Distant Disasters”

  1. We experienced this storm first hand. The first night was scary … the kids slept a little then awoke when it got too loud. We set up mattresses in the dining room, which seemed quieter and felt safer, and camped out together. We had a little roof damage but no water inside.
    The storm on the second night was equally loud for a while, but we were all so tired we went to sleep anyway. I was amazed how quickly my kids adjusted to living with noise and reading by candle light.
    Sometimes it is harder to watch disasters from a distance because of what you don't know. Easy for me to say though, as our house stayed dry and no trees landed on us.

  2. Thankyou for telling me your story. It is actually reassuring to hear stories about how everyone has coped. It can be quite terrifying not knowing, but I think that the people who have had to live through this have had it far worse than us! And everyone I have talked to is coping with such a wonderful sense of humour, even among all the shocks of destruction.

  3. Also a good opportunity to teach and check up on your own preparations 🙂

    I know there are changes I will be making to my emergency arrangements.

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