BATON ROUGE, La.—Twelve years ago, nearly 250,000 New Orleaneans fled their hometown to dodge the wrath of Hurricane Katrina and landed in Houston, Texas, a city about five hours away.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Air and Marine Operations along with multiple other agencies and good citizens provide support to communities impacted by Hurricane Harvey in Beaumont, Texas on August 30.
Almost to the date, many of those same evacuees faced another harrowing hurricane that left many areas in Texas flooded after making landfall.
Hurricane Harvey re-stimulated emotions and heightened anxieties not only for those directly affected by the storm, but for those watching all too familiar catastrophic images of families stranded on rooftops, roads flowing like rivers, overcrowded shelters, and frantic families searching for loved ones. It struck August 25.
Licensed professional counselor Ayanna Molina put out messages on Facebook regarding Post Traumatic Stress Disorder as disasters mounted.
“I began posting messages about PTSD when the August floods happened here in New Orleans a few weeks ago. I noticed people posting about their feelings and anxieties, heart beating fast, they don’t know what to do and then the interviews they saw on Harvey triggered them. People were posting crying emojis,” she said.
The month of August is a trigger because Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans August 29, 2005 and the city flooded again August 5, 2017.
In Baton Rouge, La., about an hour away from New Orleans, a storm system flooded the city leaving 13 dead and 60,000 homes damaged and destroyed last August.
“So, August has been a very difficult time for our people and I just wanted to put something out there about PTSD because people don’t know that that’s a real disorder,” she said. “When you have that disorder or when you have an experience with trauma, whether you’re under the care of a counselor, therapist, or a doctor, people still have symptoms. And it doesn’t matter if people are functioning well in life or not, they can still have anxiety and moments of depression and feeling anxious.”
Wakiti Muhammad, a former New Orleans resident, living in Houston experienced trauma all over again.
“When we evacuated from New Orleans, I left with my husband and four young children, including my one-day old infant whom I had just given birth to the day before we left. The emotional and mental stamina that it took to go through Hurricane Katrina is too drastic to put in words,” she said.
“The unplanned displacement and complete loss of life, property, and livelihood alone was a tremendous hurdle to bear. It took years to finally put life together comfortably.”
“To now experience Harvey and its traumatic ramifications on the anniversary of Katrina requires all of the lessons learned and fortitude built 12 years ago,” she said.