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KAY DECUIR — Can you say we had a REAL WINTER?

I have to admit in my life I have seen snow, ice and hail. I have lost water, power and had damage to my home. Normally these damages happen due to hurricanes.

I am confident each experience and trial we face in life is there to teach us something. During this storm, I learned I could melt snow in my gumbo pot on top of any type of heat source and make clean water to wash my dishes (though we mostly used plastic) or for taking a very quick sponge bath.

If you had propane for cooking on the grill, a gas stove, firewood, a fireplace or another heat source, that would also work. I learned more than I wanted about the Power Grid and continue to read daily updates on the news. One is never too old to learn new things!

I know we watched the weather closely, starting the Thursday before Winter Storm Uri showed its ugly side. I have family throughout Texas and Louisiana, as well as so many close friends across the states who were impacted by this same storm.

It really was difficult to keep up with everyone, but it was my priority to know everyone was safe and sound. Keeping our phones and laptops charged allowed us to use social media to connect when we had power.

In our home, we are still a little partial to our old home phone line. This land line kept my family in communication during Hurricane Rita and Ike. During Winter Storm Uri this line rang quite often during the week. Signing up for the Southeast Texas Alerting Network, (STAN), www.thestan.com to register, is something I encourage everyone to do.

I constantly thought of our business owners and how not only 2020 impacted their lives due to the weeks, the stores were not allowed to open and restaurants only were allowed to host a certain percentage.

I am also amazed how they survived 2020 and started 2021 stronger, re-invented, and some now with online shopping they didn’t have in 2020. Our local stores had the stock of special plumbing supplies we needed so we didn’t have to rush to the national chain stores.

Eventually the small businesses ran out of supplies because even they couldn’t fathom what we were experiencing. The small businesses had more stock than one could imagine. Even the national chains ran out of supplies during the storm.

What did Winter Storm Uri teach all of us?

To get prepared NOW for hurricane season 2021! We always keep a stock of basic supplies at our home and each year we rotate our stock of charcoal, bottled water, candles, batteries, keep our vehicles filled with fuel and keep a few extra gallons at home if needed.

Now in 2021, we have to be more aware of what we have learned from 2019, 2020 and the beginning of 2021. Many have said, “I can’t wait until 2019… 2020… or this year is over!” I am confident I made those comments myself.

However, when I sit and reflect on each year, I am grateful for the blessings we received even when times were bad.

What did Winter Storm Uri teach me? On the lighter side, that you could ski down many of our main streets being pulled by a golf cart.

You could use a boogie board or cardboard box to have fun on the ice, and you could sled down a highway overpass using a garbage can lid, cardboard box, plastic tote lid and other creative devices.

You could actually build a snowman with snow that could last for more than 5 days. But you could be put in the dark without notice or have no water without notice.

One of the best things I observed though was families having fun together. Even when it was so very cold, people were outside laughing and having quality time with each other. I enjoyed watching Facetime and YouTube videos of children and adults playing in the snow.

I was reminded to be thankful for the shelters that protect those that do not have a shelter to call home, and to be thankful for the non-profit organizations who are always there to lend a helping hand to others. We should count our blessings even when things are rough knowing others are going through more difficult trials in life.

On the more serious side, I was reminded to check on my neighbors more often, check on my local businesses and shop online trying to help the economy grow. If you haven’t shopped locally, please do so.

If you don’t have your house stocked with your hurricane supplies, start planning now. We all know at the last minute the stores will be full of people needing the same items, out of stock quickly and gas stations backed up.

I encourage and challenge you to take time today to mark a day on your calendar to plan to purchase your hurricane supplies. Make a list of all of the local stores that carry what you might need.

I promise in Nederland we have everything you need to survive hurricane season. Each week purchase one or two items for your supply stock. By the time hurricane season is here you will be ready and free from the last-minute shopping madness.

For our local businesses, keep on doing what you are doing! You are resilient and are so important to our community.

Keep your Business Continuity Plan updated. If you don’t have a Business Continuity Plan, give me a call at 729-1020 or print out a template from our website www.nededc.com. Let us always remember to be prepared, check on each other and #shoplocal, #shopoften, #shopNederland.

Kay DeCuir is the executive director of the Nederland Economic Development Corporation. She can be reached at kdecuir@nededc.com.