Dealing With Disaster When You Have A Special Needs Child

(Sample picture) Disaster occurs all the time and it happens when we are least prepared for it.  It doesn’t schedule an appointment, and can happen when there really isn’t many people or family members around to help you.  So what do you do when a disaster happens and you are a parent of a special needs child?

I’m typing this post today, because I experienced just this.  On Thursday, May 12th I woke up with my son who is 5 and has Down Syndrome to a nice clear, cool morning after we had just had the night before a horrible thunderstorm.

As I had started opening the windows I heard a rather strange sound, and I thought our air conditioner was starting to go since I had not been upstairs to shut it off yet.  I went upstairs and made sure all the fans were off both upstairs and downstairs.  But when I came back to my office to see if the noise had stopped I realized it didn’t.  Still not knowing exactly what this was I was starting to get nervous.  My little guy was watching Barney so he was occupied.  So I went down to our finished basement to see if this is where the sound was coming from.

I was in complete and utter shock.  A pipe hard burst, and it punched about a 8 inch hole in the drywall and was spraying water every (picture of my wall) where.  It was so forceful the best way for me to describe it was, it was like the way it looks when the fire department opens a fire hydrant.  There was just water every where.  I paniced needless to say.  My husband wasn’t home he was traveling and my son was up stairs.

So I ran upstairs to get the phone and a flashlight because there is no light in that small room behind the bathroom.  I called my husband, freaking out asking him “what knob do I turn off because the irrigation pipe broke and tore a hole in the wall which is spraying water all over the basement.”  I told him to call the company while I tried to turn off the water, even though I was terrified.

I could see now that my son was starting to get nervous himself because he saw my stress.  I didn’t want to leave him because I didn’t know what he would do, so I brought him downstairs with me but told him to stay by the steps so he didn’t come in the water.   Well of course being scared and curious he didn’t listen and followed me to the spraying water.

Nervously I started turning the valve every direction just to see if I could get it to stop.  Finally after about 5 minutes of turning in one direction and now being completely soaked I was able to get it to a point that it was not spraying so forecfully, but I couldn’t turn it anymore.  So I kept it as it was and contacted the irriga tion company to send out a plumber to get this thing turned off.  The stream that was coming out was a steady enough stream to still cause a lot of flooding.

Well in all this chaos my poor son was saying “a shower mom, a mess!”  And I had to laugh because I was about ready to cry as I looked around at all this water in my basement thinking what the heck happened.

As I am on the phone making calls to the water emergency company, the insurance, my husband and the irrigation people, I’m trying to take pictures and trying to keep my son as calm as I possibly could, because he really couldn’t understand what happened.  All he knew was mommy was stressed out.

Thankfully my nanny showed up and I told her to just take him to the library since it was going to be a lot of people walking in and out of the house and it was going to be loud.  I felt better knowing he was away from the chaos so not to cause him anymore aniexty.

When they did get home I wanted to show him what happened and what the loud noise was, now that I had 13 blowers drying up water in my basement.  I could see he was scared, he doesn’t like loud noise.  So I held him and explained to him that they were going to help dry up the water.  And he says “vaccum” and I said “yes, honey clean up.”

After I was able to get this all under control the stress had finally set in.  I thought to myself what would I have done if my nanny wasn’t there to help me with my son.  I have no family in the area, and my husband was traveling.

So the point of this post is to really have as much of a backup/emergency plan as you can have.  Identify people you trust that you can bring your kids to, so they can be safe while you are taking care of the disaster back at your house.  Have a plan with your child’s medication and medical equipment, do you have a list of what they take, the number for your pharmacy or medical equipment store?  There is so much on your mind during a disaster that it is hard to think it all through.

Here is a great article to reference on how to create an emergency preparedness plan.  But mostly I learned to stay as calm as you can under the circumstances because your children feed off your fear and stress.


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