NEW YORK -- In their new nightmares, swirls of water sweep them away -- like the tsunami, but also like the grief and shock that engulfed them after they lost loved ones on Sept. 11, 2001.
The scenes of misery from tsunami-stricken Asia are proving especially upsetting to survivors of the terrorist attacks. Ghoulish images have been disrupting their sleep, and flashbacks of the 9/11 aftermath have been invading their thoughts since the Dec. 26 catastrophe that killed 150,000 people half a world away.
''It's not a terrorist-related event, but it's so out of the realm of people's idea of normal life and reminds us how you can just once again lose everything in an instant," said Eric LaBorie, 37, whose wife, Kathryn, was a flight attendant on one of the planes that crashed into the World Trade Center. ''It brings back all those hard memories that just flood you at 3 o'clock in the morning."
Late at night he lies awake at his home in Providence, his imagination tormenting him with visions and sounds of how she might have spent her last minutes.
''What did it sound like? Was she attacked? Was she murdered before the plane crashed?" he said. ''It goes on and on and on, and it's horrible because I'll never know."
The 9/11 survivors say they know how it feels to search for someone lost in a sudden tragedy, to call hospitals and post fliers featuring a smiling photo and desperately upbeat detail -- a process now being repeated in areas hit by the tsunami.
''When I saw the newscast of that, I got chills -- it was like, 'Oh my God, here we go again,' " said Cheryl McDonnell, 38, whose relatives and friends plastered city walls with posters pleading for information about her husband, Michael, lost in the World Trade Center. ''Your heart breaks because you look in their eyes and you've been there. You know what's to come, that their loved ones are not coming back and they're never going to see them again."
Russell J. Kormann, associate director of the posttraumatic stress disorder program at the Rutgers University Anxiety Disorder Clinic, said it is not surprising that 9/11 survivors are again suffering mood fluctuations, flashbacks, and trouble sleeping.
''In some respect, this experience is identical -- the massive loss of life, tragic story after tragic story," he said.
Many say they have donated to the relief effort as a way to cope.
Some of the Sept. 11 families are still waiting for the remains of their loved ones to be found. Nearly 2,800 died at the World Trade Center, and the remains of only about 1,600 have been identified.
The task is worse in Asia. Fifty times the number of victims are spread over thousands of miles, some deep in the ocean and some buried hastily in mass graves for fear that rotting corpses would spread diseases. Many victims will probably never be recovered.
In New York, Karen Carlucci waited nearly two years before remains of her fianc, Peter Frank, were identified. Carlucci, who had planned to marry Frank on Oct. 19, 2001, feels a connection to people searching for victims.
''First it's looking for the person, and then it's understanding that they're not coming back," said Carlucci, 32. ''But then it's looking for something else, not knowing when you'll find them, how they're going to be found and what is going to be found."