Managing the "Sad" as We Tackle Florence's Aftermath
Updated: Feb 4, 2020
Over the last week, I've talked to many media, tourism and hospitality professionals--as well as clients--who have worked tirelessly to assist those affected by Hurricane Florence. The thing I hear in their voices in the last 24 hours, as they come up for air or let someone take the helm for a few hours isn't anger or fatigue. It's sadness. They are aware firsthand of the loss and suffering of their friends, family and people in their communities and region.
The reason they feel so deeply is because these are people who "get 'er done." They're the folks who know what it takes to move the needle--and then move it. Their work matters to them. People matter to them. I think this likely applies to YOU.
I humbly offer a few thoughts as I finetune my mindset for the long haul of recovery ahead.
1. Embrace the emotion. Remaining stoic in the face of this storm will likely give you a long-term stomach ache or worse. When you can, unpack those emotions. Don't be afraid to talk to a counselor or close friend. Acknowledge how personal it is. Allow yourself to grieve; get mad. Disasters seem to affect the poorest, most vulnerable citizens in ways most of us can't fathom.
2. If you haven't already, DO something: Donate. Volunteer. My top charities are:
a. The American Red Cross (you can also volunteer through their website).
b. The Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina
c. World Central Kitchen - You may recognize James Beard Award-winning Chef José Andrés from his work during the disaster in Puerto Rico. World Central Kitchen prepositioned a response team two days before Hurricane Florence made landfall and began preparing meals for response teams on the ground. WCK also coordinated efforts with the Red Cross to begin feeding shelters for those displaced by the hurricane.
(Some of these are NC centric--let me hear from you about well-vetted SC options, and I'll add to my website and Facebook pages.)
3. Divide and conquer. During times of crisis or grief, the everyday things that pop up on your radar seem trivial. Unless you're directly affected (and so many of you are), you'll still have regular board meetings, reports and deadlines. Accept that the Florence work and regular work will happen alongside each other. Be realistic about what's possible. Your team wants to feel as valuable as you are right now. It's a good time to delegate and allow individuals to rise to the occasion.
4. Don't expect outpourings of gratitude from those you help. In my work with my church's homeless ministry, I've learned that people operate in all bandwidths of reality, empathy and perception. People are processing more than you know. You're not there for the kudos. Do what you can, and get out of the way. Ask people if they want your help before rushing in with a rescue.
5. Encourage others. One of the best gifts--on any day, whether there's a disaster or not--is to notice the little things those around you do to make a difference. Tuning into the "channel of good" will do more to change your outlook and affect those closest to you than anything you can do. The good is out there. If you look for it, you'll SEE it.
6. Finally, keep an eye on the tone of your social media, your personal posting and your website updates. Some of us have stayed quiet during the storm's impact to avoid seeming tone deaf. Others have been posting up-to-date openings and evacuee support. It's a tough dance out there now as we discern how to carry on the business at hand and still offer empathy and support. Take a moment before you write and think about who might be reading. Indulgence is off key right now.
I welcome your feedback and ideas on ways to help the Carolinas recover. Thanks for all you're doing to make your corner a better place. To channel "Star Wars," may The Force (whatever that is for you!) be with you. Go get 'em!