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  • Writer's pictureBrent Woods, MA, LPC

What’s it Matter.....?

This is the last picture I have of our home before the storm. Who knew what destruction lie ahead later that night. For myself, I completely underestimated the potential to this storm. This is where I grew up. No...not in that house, but on this property. Property that was decimated 15 years ago by Hurricane Rita. But Rita had nothing on this storm. It was destructive even further. Yes, it may be “just trees”, but it‘s also memories. Memories that are even further away now than they every have been.

Of course, we got out ahead of time. No way I wanted to risk that with 2 kids and a pregnant wife. I didn’t want to leave. But I didn’t want to stay. It wasn’t safe. So we packed. And packed. Nothing set right deep in me. Even when it was a Cat 2. I knew it was going to be bad. I could feel it in my bones. Like an uneasiness that just wouldn’t pass. It kept me up at night at least 2 days before the storm hit. It wasn’t like anxiety, something more. Something bad was coming, but we didn’t know what exactly. We had no idea of the destruction of what is to come.

Staying in a hotel room with 2 kids, a dog, 2 cats, and my wife was tough. We left a day early, so there was much anticipation. We spent an ample amount of time pleading with family to get out. Family who was stubborn, who wanted to stay, or who had no other way out. I find that is a similar story for many people I speak with. Some people were headstrong, saying they would never leave for another one after Rita. But talking with every single person who stayed for Laura, not one has said they will stay for another. Many were afraid for their lives. One person described the winds as a “demonic howling” and a “freight train”.

I stayed up all night, fighting the tiredness. I watched the weather channel as they showed the devastation downtown. The place where I grew up was being torn to shreds on tv. Even the casinos were being torn to shreds, which faired very well through Rita. I had the feeling in the pit of my stomach that when light came, we wouldn’t be waking up to much left.

And I was right. When light came, and some of the first images came, I was in denial. How can this be real? Thoughts of comparing this to “faking the moon landing” came into my head. ”It’s not real”, I told myself. But it was....It was very real. More and more images. Just seemed hard to bear. Photos of Ryan st. The route I used to take every single day to go to work. Torn to shreds!

Then the numbness came....

I watched and watched, until I couldn’t watch anymore. I felt stuck. Hopeless. I wanted to go home, but I knew there wasn’t much to go home to. I figured our house was gone. My office gone. Our city...gone. The posts and stories on Facebook seemed unreal.

So what’s it matter????

It matters because this is OUR home! It matters because this is OUR story! It matters because this is where we grew up. The destruction has been devastating. I’m a therapist who helps people daily sort through their issues. But I’m so up and down with my emotions, I sometimes wonder how to make it through the day. Laura came and went, and we seem to be forgotten about. National news must have better stories to tell. We are getting WAY less help than we did with Rita 15 years ago. People are getting denied FEMA assistance. People are living in tents. YES, TENTS!

It matters because our city needs us. SWLA needs us. The only way we make it through this is together. We don’t know the future. I have no idea what even next week will look like. But I know this...

we will overcome and be stronger as a community

So I plead with you, please continue to support each other in any way you can. Please continue to be as positive as possible, but don’t shove those feelings in a box and pretend that they aren‘t there. They are there. They will be there until you deal with them. If you can‘t deal with them today....that’s fine. Deal with what you can today and move on to tomorrow. Be intentional. Remember to breathe. That seems silly to say, but we have to breathe through this. We have to take it moment by moment if we have to.

Share your story!

The way we can connect is by sharing our stories. Just like I did above. No, it‘s not the whole story. But its what I needed to get out. I needed to sit here and write about this. However you need to “get it out”, do it.

Don‘t give up SWLA.

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