The constant, increasingly urgent news reports about this year’s Hurricane season and the oncoming Hurricane Florence is triggering a lot of memories about Hurricane Harvey’s impact in Southeast Texas almost exactly a year ago. For many people those memories can induce memories of the stress of the event and the emotional burden of coping through recovery that followed.
The Beaumont Enterprise recently reminded us a year later that Harvey triggered severe depression and anxiety in many people, especially working class and people living in poverty. (Lozano, Juan A. Associated Press (Thursday, August 23, 2018) Year after Harvey, poor having toughest time recovering Beaumontpress.com)
“In the coastal city of Port Arthur , where nearly 30 percent of the roughly 55,000 residents live in poverty, Harvey “pushed some of the folks that were just barely holding on, pushed them over the edge,” said Port Arthur Mayor Derrick Freeman.”
Recovering from natural disasters like Hurricanes initially focuses on food and housing. But the longer term consequences require help with the mental health consequences of trauma including treatment for depression. Dr. Charles Figley, the Tulane University Paul Henry Kurzweg, MD Distinguished Chair explains frequent reported symptoms after hurricane floodwaters recede include fear of water, rain, flooding and anything associated with them. Sufferers also experience disturbed sleep, fatigue, impatience, anger, anxiety, discouragement and lack of hope. (Williams, Ashley (August 24, 2018) How the trauma of Hurricane Harvey plagues some survivors’ mental health 1 year later accuweather.com )
A Kaiser Family Foundation/Episcopal Health Foundation survey from December 2017 showed that in the Beaumont-Port Arthur area of Texas 33 percent of residents believed that the trauma of the storm impacted their mental health, according to the Texas Medical Association.
Dr. Darlene Lobel, a neurosurgeon previously at Cleveland Clinic and Cleveland Clinic Fairview Hospital in Ohio recommended that post-disaster PTSD sufferers seek medical help from a psychologist or psychiatrist who can regularly help with counseling and medications, if needed.