Even before it officially arrived, we felt the effects of Hurricane Dorian. Bayer’s Lake shopping Centre was jammed full of cars, with people honking at each other in a manner that was distinctly un-Nova Scotian. Long lines formed at grocery stores and gas stations, and shoppers scurried about frenetically. A province where people usually hold the doors open for one another, on Friday they rushed through, allowing doors to slam shut behind them. A woman I recently met described the rising anxiety she felt at the thought of being without power. During Hurricane Juan in 2003, she went 14 days in the dark. There were many indications that this was a province that has previously suffered the devastating effects of a hurricane.
Although kids were thrilled at the cancellation of school, many of us struggled with the clean-up and aftereffects of Dorian. Communities bonded with one another, checking to see if everyone was okay. Even while I send this note out, many of you in rural areas are still waiting for power. Personally, I received a few free skylights in my roof and the removal of my porch, no charge, courtesy of Dorian. Although we are grateful that we suffered nothing close to the devastation of our friends in Bahamas, many people worked very long hours this week in order to help restore order and comfort to our lives. A special thanks to those police, firefighters, first responders, volunteer tree removers and Hydro workers who put in very long days on our behalf. I spoke with Rod, from Hydro Nova Scotia. He showed up at our house at 6:30 Sunday am to cap off loose wires and then again on Wednesday night at 10:00 pm to help restore power. His team had been working 6:00 am until 10:00 pm all week.
The effects of trauma are multi layered. Experiences from the past colour the lens through which we view our present. This recent event reminded me of that. So if you notice people being a bit less happy, comfortable, or patient than usual, let’s cut them some slack. They may have lost their crops, still be in the dark, be figuring out how to repair their cars or homes, or possibly, be struggling to regroup after being reminded of the aftereffects of Hurricane Juan.
Belinda Seagram, Ph.D., R. Psych.
Executive Director, Landing Strong