August 28, 2017

Psychological Health in the Wake of Hurricane Harvey

Hurricane Harvey has caused enormous damage and suffering. My heart goes out to all of you have flooded, were evacuated, faced loss and fear. It has been devastating on so many levels for so many in our city.
If you or home sustained damage or flooded, you have a long road ahead. Remember it is a marathon and not a sprint. Please take care of your psychological health along the way. Your body, mind and spirit will all suffer if you do not.

Going through disasters is traumatic

There is a trauma that come from going through this kind of disaster. Give yourself time to get used to the changes that come with it. Give yourself compassion to experience and feel what you need to. There is a sense of loss in all of it. That is normal.

You may go through the stages of grief

You may find you go through the 5 stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. Accept it for what it is and don't judge yourself as you cope.

Let people help you

Allow people to help when they offer. You will need your village in this. It is not a sign of weakness. It is the whole purpose of having a village.
I wanted to pass along this article with practical tips about psychological first aid. If you know someone who needs this, please pass it along.

This is how you can ask for help


A lot of people want to help their friends and neighbors who are flooded. I recommend instead of just asking generally, "What can I do to help?", you volunteer specifically to do someone's laundry or something else on this list and see if that is helpful. A lot of people don't like asking for help but if you get in there and start helping it will be a big relief. Houston is an amazing city full of big hearted people. We will need all hands on deck to rebuild.
I did not write this list, but found it helpful. If you did flood, show this list to your friends and family who ask how they can help.

Easy Things People Can Do To Help:


Wonderful people will be asking what they can do. Of course clean up and packing are helpful, but not everyone can work at the flooded house. Here are a few things that saved me from going insane …

1. Laundry - even if your clothes did not get wet, they will smell like nasty flood water. Everything in the house that is being saved will need to be washed. My laundry was all over Houston at friend’s houses. People came in and took all clothes. Friends even took items to the dry cleaners.
2. Washing kitchen items - Dishes can be saved but everything will need to be washed!
3. Store important items - friends kept my valuables: grandmother’s jewelry, silver, hunting rifle, china/crystal, wine and even my dog until we were settled in a rental. This was a huge stress reliever so I would not have to keep track of everything as we had to move items several times.
4. Help research storage units, movers and rentals. Storage units and rentals are going to be hard to come by so this needs to happen as soon as possible.
5. Dry out pictures/ artwork - if anything can be saved, have people take items to their homes to dry out. It was so special to get back some of my kid’s artwork.
NOTE: since I could not remember who took what from my house, ask them to send you an email for future reference of what items they have. We were literally collecting items a year after the flood.
Of course childcare, housing, food and donations are always helpful!

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