The Tangipahoa River reached its crest yesterday at just over 24 feet, 9 feet above flood level, making this the 3rd highest river level on record. To the relief of many residents along the river I am sure, the water level is now falling.

The past week hasn’t been a great struggle as much as it has been an emotional roller coaster. Since the hurricane took days to arrive after it was clear it would be heading our way, I was waiting anxiously from Sunday to Wednesday to learn how much it would strengthen and trying to understand the difference between Cat 1 winds and Cat 2 winds, which were forecast at different times before it finally made arrival.

By the time the hurricane came, my nerves were leveled out, because I realized the wind wasn’t nearly what I had imagined and the power outage was merely an inconvenience for us. We took shelter with my in-laws, and bounced around to a few different places after the storm, which was a nice opportunity to see family. We finally came home yesterday, still without power, but we’ve managed to get a generator hooked up so we can run water and keep fans and a small AC going. It makes a huge difference for morale, although running a generator is pretty stressful by itself since it’s constantly rumbling and spitting out exhaust.

I’ll not speak for others in the regions, since everyone is dealing with vastly different circumstances as a result of the storm, but for me the experience has been something of a blessing in disguise. After getting carried away by work and making money (thus losing time and creativity to plan my homestead and get projects done, and spending twice as much money as I would have been spending on the past on food, clothes and entertainment) being knocked back to basic desires, like getting running water and heating up food, has given me a chance to re-evaluate my current lifestyle and set new priorities. I feel good. I feel like I am starting to restore my energy not only for ongoing planning for disaster, but for the long-term homestead vision that I started working on nearly 4 years ago.

My interests in different homesteading ventures have changed so much over the past few years. At first I was beating myself up about not having any interest in growing annual crops to the extent that I first imagined that I would, or feeling defeated by constant weed and pest management, but now I am slowly learning that homesteading can be flexible.

It’s not all about self-sufficiency either. For young families like mine, with less than 5 years experience running a household at all, simply learning how to take care of daily tasks in the house and in the family can be time-consuming and very frustrating if you fail to acknowledge and respect just how much time and energy are needed to establish a home. My vision was to jump in to homesteading as if I had 10+ years of experience in every aspect of it. Not only that, but I think that a very naive and unrealistic part of me expected my landscape to gain 10 years of maturity in the first year as well :)

I’ve probably learned more about life since 2009 than I have learned about homesteading. I’ve had small successes here and there, quite a few failures, and unfortunately more than a few fearful cases of second-guessing myself and shying away from starting a new project at all.

The most important thing, though, is what I realized last night while trying to encourage my husband to look on the positive side. We made it through our first major disaster with a hit to our paychecks and emergency savings account, but little else was lost. We are on the other side now and ready to start again. It’s hard to be fully prepared for anything, but to be prepared at least in the smaller ways can make a huge difference in the aftermath. I was constantly worried about facing our first natural disaster here, since we’re pretty close to the frontlines when it comes to hurricanes. Making it through one of my most dreaded situations has given me confidence that perhaps I have learned a few important things after all.

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