Hurricane Dorian has been in the news on the East Coast for the past few days. Unfortunately it was a Category 5 hurricane that hovered over the Bahama Islands for over 24 hours with storm surges, heavy rain and high winds. Homes were destroyed, people had to leave and be moved out of their homes, children were lost from parents and the flooding took a huge toll on both property and buildings all throughout the islands.
The most significant tragedy was the discovery that 20 lives were lost with even more individuals who could not be located. The videos that have been released make entire islands appear to be a debris field in the wake of all the destruction. As of the time of this writing the storm is moving up the East Coast and headed towards the Carolina coast. There will be continued damage and impact that will bring a great deal of fear and destruction.
Individuals who experience such a storm usually have lasting impact from the intense sounds and pounding of the wind and rain. It can be an all-consuming sense of fear and panic about what could possibly happen with your home and environment. It is extremely difficult to lose property and belongings. However, it is often not perceived how traumatizing the storm conditions can be for a child, parent or family to experience.
We certainly need emergency relief and supplies for basic life needs. Water, food, clothing, medicine and medical supplies will be essential for helping these thousands of individuals to survive.
Yet on the mental health side we also need to provide coping interventions for the panic attacks, chronic anxiety and overwhelming fear that people will experience. It is an occurrence that can trigger reliving the event over and over. It also produces a sense of grief and loss as individuals witness the intensity of the devastation. Truly this is an overwhelming crisis for anyone who encounters the reality of such a storm.
We need to provide prayers, support and whatever aid we can provide to these victims as they will need to rebuild for years. It is my hope that we as a country will be offering generous and tangible support for these devastated families.
We are blessed with so much wealth as a country and this is a time where we can rally support to our neighbors in the Caribbean and help to restore their beautiful islands that many of us have had the privilege to enjoy. It will take a great deal of time, financial support and diligence to provide help and hope for so many displaced victims. It will take even more time for them to recover from the psychological effects of such a major hurricane that has demolished their world. We send our thoughts and prayers to those who have lost loved ones, their homes and their sense of safety.