Who? Us?

We are two disabled, oldish women who have been adventuring through life for years. We are talking about how disabilities, both visible and not, change the way we enjoy our retirement.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Hurricane Hell, Ten Years Later

One of the main reasons we took on this small, cedar-sided home on six-plus acres in the middle of Nowhere, Arkansas, is because this place doesn't have hurricanes: No Katrinas here.

You're gonna be hearing and seeing media coverage about the tenth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.  It started with Robin Roberts' special last night. She did a great job telling the stories she did.  But there are just so many stories...

Many people did not even realize that they were suffering from the effects of trauma.  Over a year post-Katrina, a woman in her early seventies came to me, not knowing the reason for her debilitating anxiety and depression.  She had never before had these problems.  Let's call her Mary.  

"I didn't lose anything in the hurricane... My whole family evacuated to our home north of Slidell... We all did fine." We talked for several sessions, exploring possible causes. During one appointment, Mary matter-of-factly said, "I was glad we didn't live in New Orleans East anymore... I had a good friend, Susan, she and her husband, Joe, used to be our next-door neighbors... Susan died waiting to be rescued."  I asked her to elaborate. 

After Katrina, Mary had offered to help Joe salvage things from their now uninhabitable home.  "We went up in the attic... Sue and Joe had been forced to go up there 'cause of the rising waters from the damned levee breaches. You could still see the hole Joe'd chopped in the roof for some air... and so they could wave their make-shift flag - a pink slip of Sue's - at the rescue helicopters... As I looked around, something caught me eye... I went over to pick it up off the floor... There wasn't much light... I bent over and grabbed it... (Mary involuntarily shivered and grimaced.)  It was sticky and yuckie - smelly.  I quickly shook it off my hand..."  

What was it?  Joe explained to Mary that that was where Susan was laying when she died.  Mary had grabbed a part of Sue's scalp and hair that had rotted off her head, and had stuck to the attic floor, three days post-mortem, when rescuers finally got around to collecting Sue's body.  They'd rescued the husband; he'd been alive.  His wife had died that night before.  Rescuing" the already dead was not a priority so the body had laid there - doing what dead bodies do, in the sweltering heat of early September in Louisiana.


  1. What a horrible story. So many of us have PTSD from events in our lives. How lucky that woman was to have you!

  2. She was one of Donna's clients. She saw so many people who were just as affected by PTSD.


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