Lessons from Hurricane Harvey

My parents were fortunate to survive the floods of Hurricane Harvey in Houston, Texas, but their house wasn’t so lucky. Most everything downstairs was wet and ruined, and they were faced with many difficult decisions. My sister and I went to Houston for 4 days to help them navigate through the water damaged house and the sea of decisions in front of them. Here is what I learned.

LESSON: It is “just stuff” until it is your stuff.  As a professional organizer who declutters homes regularly, it is pretty easy for me to say several times a day “it is just stuff” or “do you need all this stuff?” I learned quickly that if all you have left from your family is your “stuff”, the sentimental value increases dramatically. When you are forced to let go of your last family “memory” you have to grieve just like you did when you lost your family.  It is tough and deserves some time to be processed.

LESSON: If something is “valuable” to you, it deserves a place of value in your home.  If the book your grandmother read to you every night is on the floor in your closet – it must not be of value to you. That is not a place of value. Put the things you love, appreciate, and want to honor on a bookshelf or somewhere in your home where you can see and enjoy them. Now go honor them! If they are packed away in the attic, they are not being valued or honored – are they?

LESSON: If you are holding on to things because you aren’t sure what to do with them – let them go. Call Salvation Army, Goodwill, Habitat for Humanity or any of the other great organizations that will come and pick up your donations.  Let someone else have them that does know what to do with them.  Do it now, so you don’t have to sort through them after a flood and wish you had sold or donated them when they were in good condition.

In a time of trauma, like Hurricane Harvey, the less decisions the better.  Make the tough choices about what to do with your stuff when you are in a regular state of mind.  Traumatic events do not help your decision making abilities, and most of us don’t like the decisions being made for us. Need help? Contact me directly at Meredith@declutteritall.com to set up a consultation.


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