With the storm approaching, my wife texted me after work to come home right away. Within minutes, after I left the clinic, she called me again to tell me NOT to come home and to seek shelter immediately. At first, I thought I could make it home, but then the wall of wind hit, and a tree fell onto the road in front of me. I turned around and another tree blocked the way. Then it got so dark. It was disorienting and I turned on my windshield wipers using the fluid to try to clear the dust and mud off my windshield. That did not help. Thankfully, I made it safely to a friend’s house.
Recently many communities in our region suffered from storms with strong winds that blasted through rural and urban areas in numerous states. Thousands of trees were uprooted, communities went without power, some lost their homes, and unfortunately lives were also lost. While some people were visibly injured, others hurt psychologically.
In my community there were warnings of a storm coming, but it came sooner than expected and most people were surprised at its power. Because of timing of the storm, many people were still on the roads coming home from work. I saw them on the roads with me. Others were trying to secure possessions outside their homes. Many were hit by flying debris and fallen trees. I saw them in the emergency department after the storm. This was a reminder for me to be prepared ahead of time, heed warnings, and seek shelter before the storm comes, not when it comes.
For the last few weeks following the event, I heard people share their experiences during the storm. Some had conversations with me, but I also witnessed many other conversations going on at work, outside with neighbors, and at the grocery store.
If you have been through something difficult or traumatic, there are benefits of sharing your story. It does not help to hold it inside. Talk to someone who can listen, whether it is a friend, family member, counselor, your doctor, or an anonymous person on a helpline. Consider writing or drawing. Find ways to process what you have been through.
Many communities are healing through neighbors helping neighbors and people sharing their stories. This is what our grandparents did when they experienced terrible blizzards, drought, and war, and this is what their ancestors did before them. They helped each other through hardships, and they shared their stories.
Andrew Ellsworth, M.D. is part of The Prairie Doc® team of physicians and currently practices family medicine in Brookings, South Dakota. Follow The Prairie Doc® at www.prairiedoc.org and on Facebook featuring On Call with the Prairie Doc® a medical Q&A show celebrating its twentieth season of truthful, tested, and timely medical information streaming live on Facebook most Thursdays at 7 p.m. central.