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A natural disaster such as a hurricane, not only leaves a trail of property destruction in its wake, but also leaves thousands of its victims with a damaged sense of balance.

In addition to restoring homes and/or businesses and replacing material possessions during the recovery, victims may need to devote time restoring their own emotional equilibrium

Here are few tips storm victims need to remember as they begin restoring their lives and property.

  • Be extra patient. This applies to family members and to workers helping with storm clean-up.
  • Don't expect things to instantly restore themselves. Physical and emotional restoration takes time. Insurance adjusters and work crews, such as those removing trees or restoring power, will get to you as soon as they possibly can. Stay alert while searching through debris. Most injuries happen during the clean-up process after the storm.
  • Realize that disaster victims have suffered losses and it's natural for them to express disbelief, anger, sadness, anxiety and depression afterwards. Emotions of victims will roller coaster and moods can change unexpectedly. Be aware of your own stress level and don't take out your frustrations on the people around you, especially those who require the most patience – young children of the elderly. Signs that adults are over-stressed include increased irritability, depression, confusion, anxiety, hyperactivity, eating and sleeping disorders, and exhaustion.
  • Don't overlook the feelings of children as you deal with clean-up. Children need to feel they can count on you for the extra attention, love and support they need to get through the recovery. You may want to get them involved in the clean-up, assigning them small jobs that will keep them busy and help them feel needed. Reassure them that they are safe and that life will return to normal. Watch for unusual behaviors in children that may include anxiety from the crisis. Some unusual behaviors may include hitting or kicking in anger or frustration, withdrawing or becoming silent, reverting to behaviors from an earlier age or exhibiting symptoms of an illness.
  • Try to keep the family diet as nourishing as possible under the circumstances and eat at regular times.
  • Focus on the big picture instead of the little details and little problems. Doing so will give you a sense of competency
  • Talk with friends, family, counselors or members of the clergy. In crisis situations, a supportive network is essential.
  • Be aware of the tendency to resort to bad habits when you are under stress.

 

Source: Dr. Ellen Abell, Extension Family and Child Development Specialist, Auburn University.


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