The American Red Cross is monitoring possible severe weather that could affect millions of people in the southern and central Plains this week while continuing to assist residents of the greater Houston area affected by the recent devastating flooding.
HOUSTON RESIDENTS PLAGUED WITH DISASTER FATIGUE
One of the problems Red Cross Disaster Mental Health workers are helping with in the Houston metro area is people who have been impacted by disasters twice in just over a year.
Lindsay Ellard and her family had just moved back into their house after flood waters had destroyed her home in May of 2015. Many of their belongings were still in boxes. Ten months later, flood waters returned, wiping out everything that had been rebuilt. “I’m not sure which was better,” she said. “To wake up and find the water there, or to watch it creep up slowly, knowing there was nothing I could do to stop it.”
Hundreds of families affected by the earlier floods have found themselves repeating the process. Many of them came by the Red Cross bulk distribution center to pick up cleaning supplies this weekend and to swap stories of their experiences. Some were in tears over having to start over again, others angry, and some resigned.
Disaster fatigue is a phenomenon that occurs when an individual, family or community is faced with a string of crises, as in the case of the neighborhoods of Houston who have had storm after storm and flood after flood. The emotional strain around having to rebuild lives is difficult enough the first time, but doing it over again compounds the stress.
The families who come to the Red Cross are dealing with the challenges in different ways. The vast majority of the people who came to get supplies had positive and determined attitudes. Helen Haywood has a full house with her daughter’s family staying with her while their home is cleaned up. “This is when you see everyone at their best,” she said. “People are really good about helping. The Red Cross has been there, too! Thank you, thank you!”
Often people under stress feel physically and mentally drained and get frustrated more quickly and more often. But there are some things people can do to cope with events over which they have no control:It’s important to eat properly and maintain a balanced diet, drink plenty of water and get some rest.Staying connected with friends and family is important because getting support reduces that feeling of being alone.Be patient with those around you and recognize that everyone is stressed and may need time to put their feelings and thoughts in order.Remain positive and remember having successfully gone through other tough times, and reach out when support is support is needed and help others when they need it.
HOUSTON RESPONSE CONTINUES Several shelters remain open in the Houston area where 39 people spent Sunday night. Red Cross teams are meeting with those affected, providing health and mental health services, meeting with people to plan their recovery as well as helping with housing and making sure people with disabilities get the help they need.
Working with the Southern Baptist Convention, the Red Cross has provided almost 29,000 meals and snacks for people in the Houston area so far and now serving about 5,000 hot meals every day. Food is being served in shelters and distributed throughout affected neighborhoods by 21 Red Cross emergency response vehicles. Food is also being distributed to folks who are sheltering in their homes. The Red Cross has also handed out thousands of clean-up kits and cleaning items. Other partners helping with the response include Islamic Relief USA, Children’s Disaster Services, Church of Latter-Day Saints, Adventist Community Services, Home Depot and AT&T.
SEVERE WEATHER THREATENS MILLIONS The National Weather Service reports portions of Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Missouri, Arkansas and Nebraska face an enhanced risk of severe weather throughout this week, including heavy rain, damaging winds, large hail and possible tornadoes. The Red Cross is monitoring the situation and putting staff and relief supplies on stand-by in case they are needed.
DOWNLOAD EMERGENCY APP People in the path of these storms can find tornado safety steps they should follow here. They should also download the free Red Cross Emergency App to have safety information, severe weather alerts and shelter locations available on their mobile device. Red Cross apps are available in smartphone app stores by searching for the American Red Cross or going to redcross.org/apps.
HOW YOU CAN HELP The Red Cross needs the public’s help now. They can give to Red Cross Disaster Relief to support disasters big and small by visiting redcross.org, calling 1-800-RED CROSS or texting the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation. Donations to Disaster Relief will be used to prepare for, respond to and help people recover from disasters big and small.