For those affected by Hurricane Ike, it is important to focus first on safety, shelter, food and cleaning up. As these needs are taken care of, it becomes just as important to pay extra attention to the emotional well being of those who have been affected. After a disaster, people may experience a variety of difficult feelings and thoughts. This may be especially true for those who were also affected by Hurricanes Gustav, Katrina and Rita. Fear for the well being of their family, anger, confusion, disbelief, sadness, grief – are all common feelings associated with the experience of the disaster.
September 8, 2019. Red Cross volunteer Candice Wingle-Spier speaks with Edna James at a Red Cross shelter in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Photographer: Talia Frenkel/American Red Cross
Red Cross volunteer Dawna Morris comforts Amber Nguyen, 6, at a West Livingston School shelter in Denham Springs, LA.
These common stress reactions can show up emotionally, in the way people feel and display feelings; cognitively in the way people think and what they think about; physically in the way they sleep, eat and go about daily living; and interpersonally in the way they interact and get along with others. Children and the elderly are more vulnerable to disaster caused stress and can benefit from increased support and attention.
Take action and practicing good coping skills can help reduce stress and discomfort. Here are a few tips and action steps to help manage the difficult feelings brought on by the disaster.
- Limit exposure to the sights and sounds of the disaster
- Prioritize your tasks and do one task at a time
- Focus on the positive—there are many people helping to provide support
- Reach out and accept help from others
- Do something you and your family enjoy
- Try to eat healthy and drink plenty of water
- Stay connected with your family and other support systems
- Be patient
- Try to develop a regular daily schedule
- For children
- allow them to feel upset and encourage them to express their feelings and thoughts
- Try to establish a schedule for their eating, sleeping and daily activities
- Limit their exposure to TV and radio coverage of the disaster
To help people deal with the disaster and provide a shoulder to lean on, the Red Cross provides professional mental health volunteers to provide information, emotional care and comfort to residents and emergency workers.
About the American Red Cross:
All American Red Cross disaster assistance is free, made possible by voluntary donations of time and money from the American people. You can help the victims of thousands of disasters across the country each year, disasters like the Hurricanes of 2008, by making a financial gift to the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund, which enables the Red Cross to provide shelter, food, counseling and other assistance to victims of disaster. The American Red Cross honors donor intent. If you wish to designate your donation to a specific disaster please do so at the time of your donation. Call 1-800-REDCROSS or 1-800-257-7575 (Spanish). Contributions to the Disaster Relief Fund may be sent to your local American Red Cross chapter or to the American Red Cross, P. O. Box 37243, Washington, DC 20013. Internet users can make a secure online contribution by visiting www.redcross.org.