Monday, August 20, 2018

After Disaster Strikes

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Natural disasters like hurricanes and tornadoes, and floods can be scary for both adults and children. In an instance, your life can be turned upside down emotionally, physically, and financially.  What actions do you take  when faced with these situations. Do you know what resources are available as you begin to rebuild?

Most people are are aware of the help you can receive from FEMA, the Red Cross, and local churches.  After you have received assistance from these sources, where do you go? Most often, there are emotional, stress, and substance abuse factors that may present themselves after these events.

When emergency events happen preschool aged children may not understand   exactly what happened but they can see and sense the emotions of people around them.   While school aged children and teens may understand the disaster, the younger children may have a harder time expressing their feelings.  Older teens may react to  the stress by acting out or using  alcohol or drugs. Or they may take an active role through helping out. Youth and parents, grandparents need help to adjust to the change,  loss or support to deal with new fears. 

How to help your loved one

  • Answer questions honestly, without getting stuck on details.
  • Answer questions in a way your child can understand.
  • Don’t provide more information than is asked.
  • Let the child lead the conversation.
  • If you can’t answer a question, don’t be afraid to say so.
  • Emotions are okay, so encourage family members to discuss any concerns
  • Keep your family routine, it may have to be tweaked but will help create a feeling of normalcy
  • Give hugs
  • Parents should be mindful of their own feelings
  • If you have trouble with stress or coping, seek support and help.
 Every person will handle disasters differently so look out for these common warning signs.
  •     Being irritable
  • Feeling sad
  • Not participating in normal activities
  • Acting out
  • Troubling sleeping including nightmares, bedwetting and insomnia
  • Clinging to parents or other family members
  • Physical symptoms like headaches or stomach aches
  • Constantly thinking about the disaster

Web Resources

or call toll free 1-800-525-0657. Find available housing in apartments funded by TDHCA.
Texas Apartment Association
Resources for finding available housing, not limited to apartments funded by TDHCA, so some apartments may not be reduced rent housing options.

Disaster Unemployment Resources

Resources for coping

National Child Traumatic Stress Network National Mental Health Information Center 1-800-789-2647 (English and Español) National Clearinghouse for Alcohol and Drug Information 1-800-729-6686 (English and Español) 

Substance Abuse Treatment Locator 
Toll-Free: 1-800-662-HELP (4357) (24/7 English and Español) 

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 
1-800-273-TALK (8255) 

Free Books & Resources
Check out these free resources to help your child to understand and handle their feelings after and a natural disaster or emergency.

The Child Welfare League of America (CWLA) has an excellent Natural Disaster Resource Guide

National Child and Traumatic Stress Network provides a free pdf ebook in english and spanish. Trinka and Sam the Rainy Windy Day is a story that helps young children and their families to talk their feelings after they have experienced a hurricane. The story describes some of their reactions and talks about how their parents help them to express their feelings and feel safer. A parent guide booklet is included at the end of the story. 

Sesame Street provides a support after an emergency with disaster toolkits and videos for multiple types of natural disasters. This is aimed for for younger children. 

  Disclaimer: This information is a starting point and is for informational purposes only. This information is not for the purpose of providing legal or medical advice. You should contact your professional mental health specialist or an attorney to obtain advice with respect to these areas.

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