Following Hurricane Matthew

EDITOR, The Tribune

I’m not a psychiatrist, but a Bahamian who experienced and survived Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans eleven years ago.

I know how many of you feel in the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew....if you do feel anything. Exhaustion, helplessness, depression, panic and the adjectives continue... Yes, it is all normal, and it DOES get better. Trust me.

After experiencing the storm in New Orleans, I was living with strangers; friends of friends. My husband and I lay awake at night with our twelve-year-old son sleeping on the floor beside us. Night after night we discussed how to put our lives back together after our lovely world in New Orleans had been kicked like an ant pile, and we all scattered to every corner of America. It was like a puzzle... We worked hard during the daytime and planned at night. We hardly slept due to anxiety and fear of what the next day would bring or wouldn’t bring. I knew one thing, we would do this together as a family with the help of friends and loved ones.

In such times of hardship and loss, as evacuees we pulled together and networked, collaborated, shared whatever we could, helped whoever we could, were patient, kind, and generous.

One day a group of Moms and I were having coffee together, and one of them had a Harvard professor brother who sent her an e-mail describing PTSS..Post trauma stress syndrome. I read the description and realised that it was exactly what we were ALL experiencing...( it sure helps to know why you feel the way you do!) Trust me, don’t take any of it lightly. The most successful men and women in our community were taken down by Hurricane Katrina emotionally.

Life will improve when your days return to some semblance of normalcy, ie normal sleep, a warm shower, electricity, internet, a proper meal, air conditioning, a normal work day, kids back in school.

What I learned from my Katrina experience was resilience, patience, faith, and a sense of humanitarianism. Help your neighbour, an elderly person, or a loved one. Put your guns and anger away and realise that mother nature is the boss, and we are here at her mercy.

Gather yourselves, and together as Bahamians you will prevail. In the end you SHOULD be a better person.

Good luck from a Katrina survivor, you can do it!


October 11, 2016.


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