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I didn’t live in Halifax during Hurricane Juan. I lived in the Maritimes and heard all about it, but I didn’t witness it first-hand. When Hurricane Dorian was announced, it barely hit my radar – at first.

By good fortune, my next-door neighbour is aware of my laissez-faire personality. A day before the storm, she asked me if I wanted some storm tips, so I said yes. After reading her text message of tips, I realized how sorely unprepared I was. I raced out and completed the suggested list of tasks: food, water, flashlights, candles, gas in my vehicle, cash on hand, and of course, charging devices. I also bought a plethora of treats, because it seems like that’s a thing.

The first thing I learned from the storm was how productive I could be when I wasn’t allowing myself to be easily distracted. I have what I like to call self-diagnosed ADD. Most days, I feel like I get nothing done, and usually it’s because I actually get nothing done. Despite my best intentions, I get distracted.  Turns out, when a storm’s brewing, I’m more focused. I bet my husband wishes there was a storm every weekend: he’s never seen me bathe the kids, bake, scrub the floors and finish the laundry in such a concentrated amount of time. Can I replicate this level of productivity? I’ll keep you post…Squirrel! What was I talking about?

Once the power went out (we lost power for 24 hours), I went immediately into Fun Mom mode. We busted out some puzzles and a pack of cards. Amelia had learned to play Spoons at camp and she taught us how to play.  This was the next lesson I learned: be present. Although I spend a ton of time with my kids doing fun activities and adventures, I’m guilty of chronically checking my phone whenever there’s the slightest lull. Power outages mean no battery wasting, so I didn’t have this luxury. Our time together was far better quality time!

Eating by candlelight!

I had heard that power outages usually mean some added excitement in the bedroom. Unfortunately for me, my bedroom lessons were not the ones I was hoping for. First, I learned that my husband is even more likely than usual to fall asleep while putting Amelia to bed if the room is pitch black. Second, I learned that I do not fit comfortably in Ewan’s day bed (which is the size of a crib). He woke in the night and was afraid of the dark, so I crawled in with him. I woke in the morning with my face pressed against the rails of the bed, my nose somewhat protruding from them. 

While we weathered the storm just fine, the same could not be said for many. In particular, Hurricane Dorian had been devastating in the Bahamas before making its way to Halifax. The hurricane became a great way to teach empathy. Amelia took an active interest in the effects of the hurricane and we were able to talk about how we could help through the Red Cross. Part of her allowance is dedicated to “donations” and this was a good opportunity to teach her about how she can help.

My last takeaway from the storm was how great my community really is. In the face of adversity, everyone pulls together. I had texts from friends who still had power, neighbours who had generators and spared my perishable food items, everyone offering to help in any way they could. Before the storm started, I thought to myself, “Why did we come to this crazy place that loses power more times than I can count?” After the storm, there was no question why: the people make all the difference. Maritimers sure know how to come together! The storm has passed, but the lessons remain.

Our trees were spared but many branches fell.
Spending unplugged time together. Photo cred: Katherine Gillis Photography.

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