The mental effects of an active hurricane season

The fear of another hurricane after losing everything in Rita, the costs of an evacuation, not to mention the hassle, and the anxiety of the possibilities of more storms entering the gulf takes its toll on Southwest Louisiana.

"Hurricane season takes its toll, especially, if it's an active hurricane season," said Michelle Trenton with Samaritan Counseling.

The mandatory evacuation for Gustav brought back all of the emotional turmoil that people have been just now recovering from," said Kay Vanchiere with Volunteers of America and also Louisiana Spirit Hurricane Recovery.

Gustav forced the people of SWLA from their homes, threatening devastation, but, thankfully, our community was spared, at least on the outside.

"Just because there is not a lot of physical damage to look at does not mean that there is not a lot of emotional and psychological damage," said Vanchiere.

Gustav's threat brought back painful memories of Rita's relentlessness for a lot of people here, but Vanchiere said we can't dwell on the past.

"If you are stuck worrying about what happened last time with Rita, then you're not preparing for the future and can kind of get lost in the shuffle," she said.

"What I've found is when Gustav started coming our way, people's anxiety shot up. A lot of people started thinking that they were squared away with Rita, and all of the sudden they weren't," she said.

She spent the early morning hours greeting evacuees as they got off the buses arriving from shelters and told them the first step to recovery is opening the lines of communication.

"Talk, it's very important to get it out there," she said.

She added, "if you feel nervous, or anxious, seeking help is nothing to feel ashamed of."

"Real people seek counseling, it doesn't mean you're weak, or id doesn't mean you're crazy! I hate that word. It just means you need someone to walk with you on your journey. Don't underestimate the people of  SWLA. They have a lot of strength and a lot of courage," she said.

Strength amd courage! That's two things worth holding onto as the 2008 hurricane season continues.

By Amanda Ward, KPLC - Lake Charles