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Snow triggers harsh memories of 2008 records

At onslaught’s anniversary, anxiety sets in for some

One year ago today, the storm began. The Inland Northwest was pummeled with record-breaking snows that disrupted routines for nearly two weeks.

Gene Yoakum said he remembers the storm well. He lives on Spokane’s North Side and uses a wheelchair to get around. Last year, he was trapped at home for three days and after that, his mobility was limited because people failed to shovel their driveways and sidewalks.

Tuesday, when snow fell again in Spokane, Yoakum had trouble leaving his neighborhood to go downtown, then struggled to negotiate icy sidewalks and curb cuts.

“It felt like déjà vu,” he said. “I felt anger. I felt ignored. I still am worried about being trapped again this winter.”

Anniversaries, whether of bad weather or the death of a loved one, can trigger anxiety or, in the most severe cases, post-traumatic stress disorder, symptoms of which include agitation, sleeplessness, anger, fatigue, lack of concentration, and depression, according to mental health experts.

Mental health experts say symptoms often worsen when the anniversary of the traumatic event hits and stirs up intense memories and emotions.

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has studied anniversary trauma extensively. On its Web site, the agency details numerous studies on the phenomenon.

For Inland Northwest residents, the anniversary of the beginning of last year’s winter storm may bring with it at least one silver lining: Remembering anniversaries can be a powerful and positive reminder of the resilience that people possessed during that difficult time.

Beginning today, The Spokesman-Review will run a daily recap of events from each day of Winter Storm 2008. It’s a reminder of the intense experience – and the amazing resilience – shared by Inland Northwest residents.

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