WV survivors coping with emotional stress
If you are facing the loss of your home, business or a cherished possession as a result of the severe storms, flooding, landslides and mudslides that hit on June 22-29, you may find that you are struggling to cope with the emotional impact of the disaster.
Everyone who lives through a natural disaster is affected by it in some way. The experts tell us that West Virginians who lived through the storms know well the profound sadness, grief and anger it is normal to feel anxious about your own safety and that of your family and close friends. The emotional toll taken by a disaster can sometimes be even more devastating than the financial strains resulting from the damage or loss of a home, business or personal property that follows a disaster. These are normal reactions to an abnormal event.
Children and older adults are of special concern in the aftermath of disasters. Even individuals who experience a disaster “second hand” through exposure to extensive media coverage can be affected.
The important thing, the doctors say, is how you react to your feelings; what you do to relieve your stress. Everyone has different needs and different ways of coping. Here are some tips from professional crisis counselors for West Virginia survivors coping with emotional stress in the wake of the storms and flooding:
• Acknowledging your feelings helps you recover.
• Focusing on your strengths and abilities helps you heal.
• Accepting help from community programs and resources is healthy.
• Contact local faith-based organizations, voluntary agencies, or professional counselors for counseling.
• The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) Disaster Distress Helpline is a national hotline dedicated to providing year-round immediate crisis counseling for people experiencing emotional distress related to any natural disaster.
Children can be especially vulnerable to stress following a disaster, such as June’s severe storms and flooding in West Virginia. Preschoolers, children and teenagers may have witnessed their home being damaged or destroyed, experienced an evacuation, suffered an injury, lost a pet or even just had their normal routines interrupted. These children are susceptible to bouts of anxiety, fear and behavioral problems.
Younger children may suffer sleep problems or bedwetting. Older children may display anger, aggression or withdrawal. Some children who have had only indirect contact with the disaster, but witness it on television, may develop distress.
As parents and adults, you can make disasters less traumatic for children by taking steps to manage your own feelings and plans for coping. Parents are almost always the best source of support for children in disasters.
Your older parents and other older loved ones may be just as vulnerable, if not more so, to post-disaster stress, as your children.
For more information on how caretakers can help older loved ones cope with disaster – and how caretakers should take care of themselves – visit http://blog.aarp.org/2013/06/05/amy-goyer-caregiver-tips-for-tragedy/ .
If you or someone you know is struggling with post-disaster stress, you are not alone. Help is as near as your phone. Call the Help for West Virginia Helpline at 844-435-7498. Also, you can contact the Disaster Distress Helpline at 800-985-5990 or text “TalkWithUs” to 66746.
Calling your insurance agent important step in getting help from FEMA
Registering with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is the first step in qualifying for disaster assistance. If you have homeowners’ or renters’ insurance, your next step is to contact your insurance agent to see if your damage is covered.
In the aftermath of the June 22-29 severe storms, flooding, landslides and mudslides, FEMA is advising survivors who experienced property damage to contact both FEMA and their insurance company. Wednesday, Aug. 24, is the last date to apply to FEMA.
If you live in Clay, Fayette, Greenbrier, Jackson, Kanawha, Lincoln, Monroe, Nicholas, Pocahontas, Roane, Summers or Webster county you may qualify for assistance from FEMA – even if you have insurance.
If you are a homeowner or renter; your home or personal property was damaged by the storms; you have insurance, and you have registered with FEMA for disaster assistance:
• You must contact your insurance agent to file a claim with your insurance company.
• You should be prepared to fully describe to your agent the damage caused by the storms.
• You should keep a record of all contacts you have with the agent and the insurance company.
• You should keep a record of the claim number and the date you called to make the claim.
• FEMA will send you a letter requesting insurance claim documentation, such as a decision letter (settlement or denial) from your insurance company, in order to further process your application.
FEMA will not duplicate benefits that are covered by insurance, but you may be eligible for help with losses not covered or those in excess of your insurance coverage. However, you will not be considered for this assistance until FEMA receives a decision letter from your insurance company.
If you experience an excessive delay (30 days or more) in receiving an insurance settlement after filing a claim, you may be eligible for an advanced one-time “rental assistance award” payment. If you fail to file an insurance claim, you will not be considered for advanced rental assistance. Your request for advanced rental assistance must be in writing.
For more information about delayed or insufficient insurance settlements, click on the “What If I Have Insurance?” section at https://www.fema.gov/individual-disaster-assistance.
Homeowners and renters may be eligible for FEMA Other Needs Assistance (ONA)grants to help with uninsured or underinsured expenses and serious needs caused by the disaster, including:
• Child care;
• Moving and storage expenses;
• Disaster-related funeral, dental and medical expenses, such as wheelchairs, canes and prescriptions;
• Repair or replacement of personal property lost or damaged in the storm, including furniture and appliances; and
• Primary vehicles, approved second vehicles and modified vehicles damaged by the disaster.
FEMA encourages both insured and uninsured survivors who sustained disaster-related damage or losses to apply by phone (voice, 711 or relay service) at 800-621-3362 (TTY users should call 800-462-7585) or online at DisasterAssistance.gov. The toll-free lines are available 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week. Multilingual operators are available. Aug. 24 is the last day for survivors to file an application.
West Virginians seeking information about disaster-related services and unmet needs should call West Virginia 211, a statewide information and referral service. Contact 211 for help finding food, childcare, crisis counseling, and many other resources in your local community. The West Virginia Voluntary Organizations Active in Disasters (VOAD) has set up a hotline for flood survivors: 800-451-1954. Volunteers who wish to help with flood response and recovery may sign up at wvflood.com or wvvoad.org.
All FEMA disaster assistance will be provided without discrimination on the grounds of race, color, sex (including sexual harassment), religion, national origin, age, disability, limited English proficiency, economic status, or retaliation. If you believe your civil rights are being violated, call 800-621-3362 or 800-462-7585 (TTY/TDD).
FEMA’s mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.