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LETTER TO THE EDITOR: There is no fatigue like trauma fatigue

October 20, 2022
By Guest Columnist

To the Editor,

I am a Tampa resident with a home on Boca Grande. I was there this past weekend and couldn’t believe the destruction and somber vibe.

There is no fatigue like trauma fatigue.

Hurricane Ian hit Florida’s gulf coast on September 28, but what most folks don’t realize is that the week before and (sometimes months) after can be exhausting.

When a storm is on the horizon, it’s the worry of what direction it will go, whether you need to evacuate, where you will evacuate, whether your insurance is lined up, what valuables you’ll take with you, buying materials you need to prepare your home, and whether you have enough necessities like food and water. Its filling up your gas tank, dealing with food hoarders and panic, and stressing about looters. It’s you missing work and the kids missing school. It’s trying to avoid watching the weather channel, but knowing you can’t. It’s you freaking out because everyone around you is freaking out.

Then the storm hits. If you evacuated, you don’t know if your home is still standing. If you didn’t evacuate, you’re worried about getting hurt. There’s no electricity. You can’t get ahold of your friends or family to check on them. Someone you know is stuck on the second story of a two story house with no food or medication. You can’t drive anywhere because the streets are flooded and there’s debris in the road.

After the storm, you return home to extensive property damage and no power. You don’t recognize your neighborhood because of the leafless trees and piles of your neighbors’ furniture in the road. The house is steamy and smells like mildew. You can’t go upstairs because it feels like a furnace. The food in your fridge is rotten, but there’s a shortage at the grocery store and most of the local restaurants- also without electricity- are closed. Your roof is damaged and all the contractors are busy. Your insurance carrier won’t call you back to tell you what to do about a claim. Your kids are going nuts from being out of their routines. You haven’t had a good night’s sleep and are exhausted from worrying.

It’s been three weeks since the storm and I’m still mentally and physically exhausted.

It’s hard to focus and I’m always tired. And the more I talk to others, the more I see that they feel the same way, too.

Just because the storm is over doesn’t mean the long-term dust has settled.

Sending love and support to those who need it. We will get through this as a community.

Thanks for your consideration, 

Jennifer D. Burby, Esq.