By Andrew Tello
When a hurricane strikes, those caught in its path often feel powerless to do little else but weather the storm. While physical damage is frequently synonymous with hurricanes, it represents only a fraction of the damage a natural disaster can bring. With a storm as intense as Hurricane Harvey,
trauma follows much like the sun when the storm clouds dissipate.
Some of the participants in the Resilient Houston: Documenting Hurricane Harvey project discussed how trauma remained with them even after the storm had left the region and how they grappled with it as best they could.
A licensed professional counselor, Mary Jo Lagoski specializes in EMDR therapy that focuses on dealing with and overcoming a traumatic event. She explained that the three basic responses to a trauma are “flight, fight, or freeze,” but “one way or the other, [survivors are] going to have a reac- tion.” Trauma from flooding, unlike some other events, lin- gers because when a person’s home floods, the situation does not quickly return to normal; instead it extends for months and, perhaps, years.
The trauma produced by Hurricane Harvey resembled the trauma people faced from earlier storms and carried with them for years. For example, Harvey was not the first storm Third Ward resident Gloria Rose survived. Originally a New Orleans resident, Gloria and her family crammed themselves into their two cars and took off in search of a dry place during Hurricane Katrina. They had to pause their escape at a bridge because the “pitch black” night made driving too difficult. Gloria recalled “[hearing] people falling off the bridge,” which was confirmed when daylight broke, and she “saw people on the ground that had expired.” The lingering memories of the sights coupled with the sounds of “children crying everywhere” may have caused Gloria, who is devoutly religious, to pray before Hurricane Ike, “Lord, don’t let it be as drastic as Katrina.”
Hope in the Forest is a community-wide effort to support and give hope to those affected by Hurricane Harvey. Each tree is decorated and donated by someone who cares. All trees will be gifted to those impacted by Hurricane Harvey. Read more here.