Harvey scenes trigger tough memories for Matthew survivors

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Some survivors of Hurricane Matthew say it’s been difficult to see the images of the flooding from Hurricane Harvey as they’re reminded of their own harrowing experiences nearly a year ago trying to escape their own homes.

“I watched a little bit today and it was like I can’t watch this. Because it’s like every time it rains you think the same thing is going to happen here again,” said Mary Wright, who recently was able to move back into her home on Sessoms Street in Fayetteville.

In Princeville, many homes are still abandoned after Hurricane Matthew.

Tiajauana Williams said she’s been anxious watching Hurricane Harvey. “Are we gonna make it? Is it gonna skip us, or are we gonna get some of this water?” she asked.

Dr. Bryce Kaye is a therapist in Cary who says it’s common for survivors of an event like Hurricane Matthew to feel fear or anxiety months or even a year after the event.

“Seeing things on TV and essentially a close replication can be triggering for some people,” he said. “Ideally, you talk about it with other people who have had similar experiences.”

He differentiated between general anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder, which can affect a person’s whole nervous system.

He said some signs of PTSD include: flashbacks, an inability to enjoy life, recurring nightmares, being easily startled and anger.

“The main danger with trauma is dissociating. I’m going to put it behind me and not think about it,” said Kaye.

The Kaiser Family Foundation surveyed people in New Orleans ten years after Hurricane Katrina and found 74 percent of people said they were better able to cope with stress as a result. Meanwhile, 19 percent of people said the storm made them less able to cope. The report notes African-American people were twice as likely to say they had difficulty coping than white people.

The American Psychological Association published some guidance on managing traumatic stress after a hurricane. You can see that here.

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