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MARY MEAUX — Storms reminder of past flooding

These past few days of rain, brought to us in the form of Tropical Storm Imelda, is a painful reminder of Hurricane Harvey’s seemingly endless downpour and likely a stressor to some.

It brings back the hours spent with eyes glued to the weather radar and the thought of days — not just hours, but days — of more rain. Then come the images of flooding, boats traveling on the very roadways where we pick our children up from school or buy groceries. We might still remember the sounds of waves hitting aluminum boats or rescue helicopters circling neighborhoods. The list goes on.

On social media there are people saying “oh no” and “not again” as they hear that another 6–12 inches of rain will fall before the tropical system moves on away from the area.

Feeling the stress, the anxiety and worry during a tropical storm/heavy rain isn’t out of the ordinary; it can be post traumatic stress disorder.

Rita Drake, licensed professional counselor-supervisor with Spindletop Center, said in a July article in The Port Arthur News that acute stress disorder is a condition in which something terrible happens that results in an immediate emotional and physiological response a person will have to that event. She said it can be very traumatic and functioning can be difficult for the person in the situation.

The human body is resilient and adapts, however there can be flashbacks and extremely terrible nightmares. Intrusive, distressing recollections can cause a person to become hypervigilant and anxious, and this can affect the body too, she said.

But there is hope.

Deep muscle relaxation techniques help calm the mind. Techniques include, for example, focusing on toes and relaxing them, then moving up the body relaxing in stages. Visual imagery is also a good tool.

Robin McCutcheon, executive director of Samaritan Counseling Center of Southeast Texas, also gave some suggestions; Follow your usual daily routine as much as possible, limit your exposure to repeated news stories, which usually increase stress, rest, get exercise and eat properly. Seek out leisure and recreational activities that involve both mind and body.
Recognize that you cannot control everything.
Talk with a relative, friend, doctor or spiritual advisor about getting help. Asking for help is a sign of strength, not of weakness.
Know that you are not alone. Please seek help if needed.

Mary Meaux is a reporter for The Port Arthur News. She can be reached at mary.meaux@panews.com