Passionate About Columbia SC
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How to Discuss a Natural Disaster with Children

how to discuss a natural disaster with children - columbia sc moms blog

I’ve never experienced a natural disaster until this past weekend. Hurricane Joaquin and other storms brought torrential downpours to the southeastern United States. It rained in Columbia and the surrounding areas for 12 days straight, causing massive floods and devastation to our area.

I’ve always felt safe here. I live a little over 100 miles from the ocean, it rains enough that we don’t have rampant wildfires, I don’t live near tornado alley, we don’t have volcanos, and I’ve never been snowed in by a blizzard in Columbia. What happened last weekend made me realize there is no such thing as completely safe. That’s a hard topic to discuss with your children.

This past Saturday night I couldn’t even sleep because I was so worried about dams breaking and flooding in my area. The next day before we turned on the television news, I asked my 9, 10 and 12-year-old if they remembered going to the Riverfront Canal Park to take pictures this past July. They all said yes. It’s hard to forget that day because it was miserably hot outside, but they all put on their best faces and took some amazing pictures for me. My mom came along and helped me with them.

The location where we are standing in this picture is currently flooded. The water has risen up to the arches of the bridge behind us. - Photo Credit: Nicole Caudle Photography -

The location where we are standing in this picture is currently flooded. The water has risen up to the arches of the Gervais Street bridge behind us. (Photo Credit: Nicole Caudle Photography)

I explained to my kids that the Riverfront Canal Park and the Cayce-West Columbia Riverwalk were now underneath the Congaree River. I also told them several dams on the other side of town had broken and the surrounding neighborhoods were flooded. I let them know there were people without shelter, food and water. Many in our community lost everything — school books, pets, baby keepsakes, photos, electricity, clean drinking water — some people even lost their lives.

October 6, 2015 - This is the same bridge as taken in the previous picture with my children.

October 6, 2015 – This is the same bridge seen in the previous picture with my children. Notice the difference in the water levels. It’s NEVER this high.

My kids and I went down to the Congaree River today to observe the flooding. It was so sad to see a place where we used to take family pictures, go on walks, and attend local events — destroyed. I explained to my children that although our family and home were safe, it was important to help others who weren’t so fortunate. My fellow Moms Blog contributor Natasha reached out to our team to organize and collect supplies for a local shelter, so my kids and I gathered clothes, magazines and toys to donate. We also stopped by a store and bought diapers and wipes to contribute.

Natasha Brown, Lori Clarke, and myself met earlier today to give Natasha items to take to a shelter.

Several of the Columbia SC Moms Blog writers – Natasha Brown, Lori Clarke and myself – met to provide items to the shelter at Lower Richland.

While we were waiting on Natasha to arrive at our planned destination, a truck passed by loaded down with bottled water. I’m glad my kids were able to see others in our community pulling together and helping one another to assist flood victims. As Columbia works towards rebuilding, ask your own children — what can they do to help the flood victims?

  • Purchase coloring books and crayons at the dollar store for children who have been evacuated from their homes with their chore/ piggybank money
  • Donate toys
  • Donate clothes

Listen to their ideas, and even if it isn’t an item the shelter is in need of, allow them to help others by donating to organizations like Goodwill or His House who could benefit from their contributions. Teaching your children to help people in need is a valuable life lesson.

My daughter and I bought some diapers and wipes for a local shelter. We also donated some clothes, magazines, and toys.

It’s important to teach children the importance of helping others in need.

Whether your community is experiencing forest fires, earthquakes, hurricanes, tornados or floods — if your family and home are safe, do what you can to help your neighbors. Explain to your children what is going on in their community and encourage them to help as well. Although Columbia has experienced devastating destruction, it hasn’t broken our spirits and our desire to pull together as one has made us stronger. It’s been amazing to see this kind of unity, and I’m proud to call Columbia my home.

You CAN make a difference. Let your children know they can make a difference too. #SCStrong

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One Response to How to Discuss a Natural Disaster with Children

  1. Rambo October 8, 2015 at 6:00 pm #

    Great article, thank you for writing it.

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