Bringing Calm through Coaching

Monthly Archives: FEBRUARY 2011

Monday, February 14, 2011


posted by Taxcell at  17:39 || under General Organizing Tips

February 28, 2011

Helping during a disaster

Having lived through a devastating earthquake as well as the affects of a Volcano and even a small Flood I feel like I at least have an emotional handle on the issues that arise after a natural disaster. And, can you believe I now live in Tornado Alley and have never actually seen a tornado?
My recommendations:

1. Realize they aren't thinking very rationally. They can hyper-focus on what may seem silly (a Christmas décor, a childhood doll etc).

You'll need to very gently help them think of the bigger picture and the immediate, ex: furniture removal, restoration services can pack up and restore damaged items and provide a list for insurance, itemizing (if possible) the missing/damaged beyond repair items.
2. Speak quietly and choose gentle, soothing words. Believe it or not, the most frustrating things can be a loud voice or a speed-talker. Our minds are so overwhelmed that it takes a gentle, quiet, calming voice to help us settle down and begin the difficult planning.
3. Create a list of service providers who had good reputations BEFORE the event. The "worms” come out of the woodwork! By providing a phone list of the best services, you prevent them from accepting help from the "ambulance chasers”. You may even want to offer making the first connection with a couple of companies to get estimates. And don't forget to include quality mental health professionals. They WILL need to speak to someone, even if only once. The children really need to talk to professionals. Their minds draw wild conclusions about the disaster that a professional can help them minimize and bring under control.
4. As you begin to "clear the clutter”, realize that your definition of trash must change! They are looking for any piece of their life, even a broken tea pot or one piece of china. Don't throw anything out without approval!! AND, protect them from themselves; some tend to be extreme in tossing everything or keeping everything you need to be the voice of reason.
5. Provide basics in a 5 gallon lidded bucket. If you can find one, fill it with wipes, bottled water, protein snacks, soap, laundry soap, toothbrush/paste, flashlight, stuffed animals (if kids involved). They can use the bucket to sit on, wash clothes in and store items to keep dry.

6. Take Pictures! They will not think of this most likely and will appreciate the evidence both for posterity and for insurance claims. Sometimes the photos help them remember what items really were destroyed and where some items may be. They also help them to see the progress when it feels like it taking too long to get back to normal.

7. Watch their body language. They may need to be told to sit and rest and be assured that it will be ok. They need to be given permission to NOT work 15 hour days. Suggest going to dinner with neighbors (even if dinner is a barbeque in the middle of the street pot luck)

There are so many more things you can do, but the key is, START! Start helping and sharing the burden.

A Virtual Hug,


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As a Certified Professional Organizer I desire to share ideas and tools to assist anyone who desires to increase productivity in their home or office.