Understanding a Disaster by Blake Yarak

We know that disasters exist, Hurricane Sandy, Hurricane Katrina, and flood Harvey in Houston to name a few. We know that these events affect people around the globe, especially to us in the United States. But, further from just knowing that they exist and have effected people, we remain disconnected to understanding the long lasting impact it can have on the community. I signed up to attend this alternative spring break trip to know exactly that impact. In the pursuit of knowing that impact, every detail should not be overlooked, every encounter valuable, and every connection made incredible as each gives me an incredible view on understanding a disaster.

This trip, although one day in, has brought me valuable knowledge. For example, I’ve currently painted a house for someone who has had to completely demolish their old house to rebuild from Hurricane Sandy. It may not seem like a lot to paint, but understanding the larger significance of painting someone’s home, their life (plus the future life after the building is complete), is understanding the impact of a disaster alone. I know an impact will be made, although it is just paint, that my contribution (and others) has made a new home that much more of a home for someone who had that taken away from them.

Additionally, meeting other volunteers and bonding with additional students attending this trip gives me a great appreciation for the community that can be formed to help a community effected by a disaster. When we completely understand a disaster, meaning not just the name, the place, and the effect, but the people who remain years after the event will we know how to properly address whatever will come. When a community forms to combat that we cannot be beaten by these disasters. That is to understand a disaster.