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Holidays: A Time Help Advance Healing After the Landslide

We want to identify and remove barriers to the healing process... This is a challenge when asking for help doesn't come naturally in our community — Wyonne Perrault, NCFS

It’s been nine months since the Washington landslide struck and the holidays are on the horizon. This is a time to celebrate for most. Yet holidays are emotionally charged for families in Darrington, Oso and Arlington.

Through the long-term recovery group, or LTRG, the Red Cross continues to work with a network of partners in assisting landslide-impacted families get back on their feet. Among the partners, North Counties Family Services in Darrington has over 20 years of providing local community support services. This experienced insight and essential perspective has been invaluable in guiding the Red Cross for an effective long-term recovery plan.

Wyonne Perrault, executive director of NCFS explained that the most important first step was to identify and remove barriers to the healing process.

“This is a challenge when asking for help doesn't come naturally in our community ” Wyonne explained. “This has required us to be very proactive in offering and providing assistance, often in new and unexpected ways.”

One example she cites is highlighted by the upcoming holidays. Sensitive to emotional triggers and the need for family and support, Wyonne’s team sought creative approaches to provide meaningful help.

Aunts, uncles and extended family have opened their hearts and doors to loved ones who were hard hit by the disaster but this still represents an added expense, Wyonne noted. “If you bring seven more people to Christmas dinner, there is a huge increase in the holiday budget,” she said. Anticipating the need and providing the support in advance lessens the burden “We can’t just assume everyone can handle it.”

To ease the community through the financial turmoil of the holidays, the LTRG has identified landslide-impacted families with the greatest needs and provided gift cards. “We want everyone to have at least one gift to open on Christmas,” said Bob Dolhanyk, long-term recovery manager for the Red Cross.

Community healing is about listening closely and reaching out to address needs even before they arise Wyonne added. “In doing this, on an emotional level, the community knows that the support is there and this is helping everyone move forward.”