Rita smiled like the cat who got the cream as she looked back on last time at the caravan which had been her home for the past few months. She was made temporarily homeless by Hurricane Jane last winter. Weather warnings had been in place but hurricanes that forceful in this part of the country were very rare, so the townspeople didn’t prepare enough. Windows and doors should have been boarded up to minimise shattered glass, water supply should have been turned off to prevent floods and homes should have stocked up on food to prevent the looting of local supermarkets that took place in the days immediately following the hurricane.
The aftermath still haunts Rita. Her son, Toby, was only a new born when it happened. The strong gale force winds howled loudly that November morning. The rain fell so fast, Rita thought the clouds above her were going to open so wide and swallow up her house. Cars were lifted off the roads and flowed down the new river that used to be her street. Trees that stood long before even her grandparents were born were uprooted in minutes.
“Oh, my goodness, what will I do for supplies?” cried a panicked Rita to her husband Jerry. “We’ll get help from the army” answered Jerry in a quivering voice that couldn’t hide his nervousness. A team of locals set up a makeshift relief centre in the town hall. The next few weeks saw people moved to caravans. It wasn’t quite like home comforts, but it was their own personal space and it meant the world to Rita.
The days of going down to the local town hall to stock up on necessities give her haunting flashbacks. She learned to never take for granted day to day errands that she normally complained of, like going to the supermarket for nappies, milk or bread. Using clean water sterilising baby feeding equipment was always a difficulty after the hurricane. People are the mercy of weather and at times like this appreciate the simple things of life.
Rita was moving into a house today. Knowing she will have hot water, electricity, a cosy bed to lay down her weary body, her baby will be snug in his cot all tucked up safely like every baby should be. On a joyful day like today, she remembers a saying her mother used to say to her growing up, “Never forget who ignored you when you needed them, and who helped you before you could even ask”.