One of the many things I love about the work we do at Sobel EAC Valuations is the opportunity to travel and see new places that I may never see otherwise. Most of the places I visited have been interesting and fun places to see – Houston, Austin, and Dallas, Texas, and Indianapolis, Indiana. I was part of the team that valued all the personal property assets at Yosemite National Park. I have seen Lake Superior from its shore in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Wherever I go, I can find something new and interesting to see that I end up talking about for weeks.

On my most recent trip, what I saw was new and interesting, and I have been talking about it for weeks since I have returned, but for different reasons. Sobel EAC Valuations was engaged to complete a valuation project near Lake Charles, Louisiana at the end of the summer. I had not thought much of it when the trip was cancelled twice due to Hurricanes Laura and Delta that were hitting or had hit the area – until we arrived.

Typically, we stay close to the job site, however, due to the storm damage and subsequent displacement of so many residents, there were no available hotels. We had to stay 90 minutes away in Lafayette, Louisiana. The drive from the hotel to the job site was eye-opening. The damage that was done over the last few months to the area was devastating. Entire neighborhoods were destroyed, businesses along the highway suffered extreme physical damage, and the debris from that damage was littering the roadways. Entire neighborhoods had blue-tarped roofs because their roofs had been blown away in the storm. As I came over one bridge, I noticed a beautiful building with green and yellow glass that seemed to make a design. It was not until I got closer that I realized that the yellow glass was plyboard being used to protect the interior of the building where the windows had been shattered.

As awful as it was to see, the businesses were still open and doing what they could to serve their customers while trying to rebuild. People I spoke to said that neighbors banded together to help neighbors. 2020 has been a year like no other, and its effect on people is different with each person to whom you speak. In Louisiana, I saw a resiliency and a dedication to get back to “normal” and learned perhaps our situation in the mid-Atlantic may not be so bad.

This trip reminded me that even in a challenging year like 2020, we need to be thankful for what we have, and appreciate those around us. Challenges can also bring out the best in us, as we draw together and work for the common good. My colleagues and I appreciate the opportunity to do the work we do and meet some amazing people along the way. Here’s to 2021, and the challenges and life lessons it will bring!