Survivors tell of Dorian trauma

DEVASTATION in Abaco after Hurricane Dorian. (NOAA via AP)

DEVASTATION in Abaco after Hurricane Dorian. (NOAA via AP)



THE anniversary of Hurricane Dorian has stirred mixed emotions for many, especially some survivors who still deal with the mental trauma caused by the catastrophic storm.

The Tribune yesterday contacted some of the survivors as to how they are coping post-Dorian.


Amanda Sawyer

Amanda Sawyer, a resident of Treasure Cay, Abaco, said for months she experienced post traumatic stress disorder due to her frightening experience of Hurricane Dorian.

Ms Sawyer and her family held each other closely in a circle as they huddled for safety in their laundry room, watching as parts of their home were swept away by the storm. She said in that moment all her family could do was pray for protection and safety.

 When asked if she has endured any trauma from the storm Ms Sawyer shared her personal struggles.

 “For six months I experienced PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder). I was unable to sleep. My daughter and I would get up with nightmares. I became OCD (obsessive compulsive) with fans that were moving too fast, winds that were blowing too loud, or anything that reminded me of the storm had me very paranoid. So, for a while for six months I had a very hard time sleeping,” Ms Sawyer said.

 Despite the trauma she went through Ms Sawyer leans on her spirituality and the love of her family to help her cope.


Drexal Bootle with his wife.

 Another Dorian survivor Drexal “Jackie” Bootle of Abaco said Hurricane Dorian had a psychological affect on him and his wife for some time.

 He said as water began to flood into his home and the roof blew off, he thought to himself that his “hour had come”.

 Mr Bootle said the experience was “terrifying” for him and his wife because they watched their home being broken down piece by piece while shielding for their life.

 They eventually sought shelter in a nearby car until they were rescued by other residents.

 When asked about the psychological impact of the storm, Mr Bootle explained that it took some time to get back to normal, but he has made progress to calm down his nerves.

 He said: “At the beginning it was nerve-wracking every time you heard wind and rain against the windows.”

 Mr Bootle added that the anxiety he felt was also shared by his wife who became frightened when she would see rain or anything resembling their experience during the hurricane.

 He said time helps in the healing process as he and his wife continue to rebuild their life for the better.

 He said the storm helped him become more “appreciative” of life and cherishing the ones around him.


Crystal Williams

 Crystal Williams was in Florida during the hurricane while she tried to get in contact with her children, mother, and other relatives who were in Abaco.

 She was determined to get back to Abaco so she could check to see if her family was safe. She said she was the first person to land on the island after the hurricane as other victims were desperately trying to evacuate.

 Ms Williams was eventually able to gather her family, but sadly lost her entire home and some apartments she owned.

 The mother of two said her children struggled with trauma after the storm to the point that she had to seek professional help for them.

 Ms Williams highlighted the importance of the government providing mental health support for persons still reeling from the trauma of Dorian.

 She said: “It takes persons being able to talk about their experiences, and the way forward and feeling as if they’re a part of something. Instead of every year it’s a slap in the face, but everybody wants to celebrate our pain when they don’t understand the pain itself. I’m still going through a process of having to remind myself that I don’t have certain things. Like yeah, I used to have that, but we lost that in Dorian.

 “So I just want people to be more sensitive. Because we didn’t just lose homes, lives, and businesses, but we lost our pride and our dignity.”


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