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Caribbean struggles with mental aftermath of hurricanes

MiamiHerald / At the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium in Antigua, some evacuees gazed dully into the distance, reliving the horrors of brutal Hurricane Irma and struggling to come to grips with losing everything. Others spoke at great lengths about their collapsed shops on the tiny island of Barbuda, discussing them as if they were still open.

“It looks very sad,” said shelter manager Denise Harris, of the residents who were among 1,800 forced to evacuate Barbuda last month and seek shelter on nearby Antigua after the Category 5 storm decimated the island . “From the look on their faces, you know what they went through, what they lost, what they’re thinking of.”

Some 118 miles south in a devastated Dominica , visiting behavioral therapists tried to relieve the emotional toll of Hurricane Maria, which tore a path through the Caribbean 12 days after Irma, killing dozens and flattening entire villages.

“Some of us suffer in our own little way, in our own little homes, in our own situations,” said Dennis Joseph, a former radio broadcaster hosting a televised government briefing in Dominica to offer psychosocial support to Maria survivors. “There are stories about people trying to hide away in closets, under cellars, under beds or just simply running away – wild into the wind. What happens after that? What happens after the storm leaves?”

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