My five children, aged 2 to 15, at the time of Hurricane Andrew, remained in our home as we sustained a direct hit and 99k in damages.
They grew stronger and increased their faith. My husband was away on military orders so we had to cope on our own. We all pitched in to work. We kept the youngest in a safe spot while we cleaned up broken glass and debris floating on the floor. I put bot shoes on my toddler, gave him a pail, opened a window, and showed him how to bail out the sunken living room with an older sister, where a few inches of water floated.
Infants and toddlers are less likely to understand the situation or develop fear if parents and others remain calm. We didn’t have electricity for a few days and once we did, we did not expose him to the scenes of disaster. We limited how much the others watched.
Our elementary aged children pitched in with cleaning the driveway, removing soaked carpets, and general cleanup. My teens worked harder and donned gloves to help with repairing fencing, cleaning walls to prevent mold, and moving furniture.
Within a few days we opened our home to another family as we changed up sleeping arrangements with two bedrooms that could not be used. We also took in laundry for friends without power once we had electricity. And all but our toddler went with scout and youth groups to help out at areas worse than our neighborhood, in temporary tent cities, to help serve food and entertain children.
We also started studying the book of Nehemiah and how the people worked at rebuilding the city wall. It provided time to discuss the disaster and how cooperating and working help. For the next two years our youngest son reacted to anything broken by stating, “Hurricane did it.” It took a while for him to realize that was one storm.
Helping out, talking about the damages, and volunteering to serve others all provided ways for the children to respond and cope with their emotions, fears, and faith in God. They all grew to be strong and faithful adults. I believe it made it easier to face other problems, including Hurricane Irma (four still live in Florida).
When problems occur, help your children be part of the solution. Consider safe ways they can help. Talk about disasters in other areas and help them collect food and other items needed for victims.
Prepare children to face unexpected challenges. Read about disasters in the Bible and discuss what to do in emergencies. Be patient when children express fears and ask about natural disasters. Prepare an emergency kit together, learn basic first aid, and pray as a family for God’s continued protection.