In the devastating wake of hurricanes Harvey and Irma, thousands of individuals are working to rebuild their lives after being torn from their homes, communities, and in some cases, their families. The real heroes during these catastrophic times are the volunteers, first responders, and medical professionals who respond and act accordingly in order to help all of those affected by these terrifying acts of nature. National Preparedness Month is dedicated to training individuals on how to respond during emergencies and more importantly, providing them with the necessary steps that must be taken to rebuild their community in the aftermath of disaster. NPM encourages individuals to engage in preparedness and assist their neighbors—in turn, transforming ordinary civilians into first responders.
Stephanie Decker is a motivational keynote speaker whose message of “discovering your inner hero,” ties in closely with the goals of National Preparedness Month. As a victim of natural disaster, Stephanie’s life was changed drastically when a tornado ripped through her town of Henryville, Indiana in March of 2012. As her house collapsed around her, Stephanie lost both of her legs while protecting her two children. Her inspiring story and heroic actions are a true symbol of survival. Below, Stephanie shares her thoughts on the aftermath of hurricanes Harvey and Irma as well as some inspiring advice to those currently readjusting to life after the storm.
“Nothing is more intense than living, or should I say surviving through the ferocity of what Mother Nature hands us. The fear is paralyzing, wondering hour by hour, minute by minute, second by second, if your time on this Earth will be your last. We all have an expiration date; is this ours? How can life be that fragile? How can it end as fast as the hurricane comes ashore and destroys an entire city? Once the sickness in your stomach has settled and you are one of the lucky ones, you realize that you narrowly escaped what was surely the end. The birds are chirping, the sun is shining and it’s as if Mother Nature has played it’s most cruel joke yet. The skies are blue and fluffy clouds float above, as if She had never been this force to be reckoned with. You look upon the horizon and the horrifying details begin to unfold before your eyes.
Utter destruction, homes and barns are annihilated. Our dogs and cats that are pieces of our heart are stranded on leftover debris begging for rescue. The details are so detailed, it’s unimaginable. The scene takes your breath away, it has to be unreal. This has to be something from a movie because it keeps playing over and over as if someone has hit a continuous loop in your mind. How do we put all the broken and shattered pieces of our lives back together again?
HOPE and FAITH are what begin to help mend our broken hearts. You begin to see not just the destruction and despair, but the love and compassion. It’s almost, just almost, as if the world has tilted on its axis and stopped on all of the shattered lives in Texas. We begin to see the thousands of volunteers making daring rescues to save the lives of not just people but our animals that we consider humans. THIS is what has given us HOPE and FAITH that the world is still a great place. It has restored our faith in humanity. The human spirit is alive and breathing the life back into us, and piece by piece, plywood by broken plywood boards, one foot in front of the other, we begin to salvage what’s left of the life we have once known.
Will life ever be the same as we know it? The answer is “No.” This is life altering, it will change you. But that change can be the most eye opening, growing experience of your lifetime if you allow it to. You’re lucky to be alive. You count your blessings and say a prayer for those that aren’t so fortunate. Everything that was destroyed are just THINGS; things are replaceable, life is not. One day at a time you slowly rebuild not just your home, but your lives. There is a new appreciation for living, almost like a rebirth. You have been given a second chance, now what are you going to do with it? How can your experiences make you stronger? How can they make you a better person? It’s a choice. You choose how to handle hardships in your own life. Despite the devastation, the tears of loss and starting over, there is always hope.
Just remember to take a look around you and you will see it. Life goes on whether or not you’re ready. The birds are chirping and the sun is out; the grass will grow and the leaves will bloom again. We need to move forward because if not, what is our other option? There isn’t one, not a viable self-sustaining one at least. Embrace the happy moments even if they may be scarce and fleeting. Put one foot in front of the other every day; those bright spots become brighter and there will come a time you may not cry that day. When you watch that movie in your head as it will replay thousands of times, it’s not as heartbreaking as it was yesterday.”
For more information on booking Stephanie Decker:
check out www.eaglestalent.com or call our office at 1.800.345.5607.