Coping with Harvey, Irma, And Other Storms

Houston is working diligently to put the city back together after Harvey while Irma has her turn to take on the human race. It’s very easy to focus on the simple things: getting food, water, and shelter to those who need to, and don’t get me wrong, these are very important goals. But it’s also important to consider the long-term effects that natural disasters have on people, both those who lived through them and those who watched from a distance.

Reflecting on Harvey’s path of devastation, I realized I was lucky. There were many forecasts that Harvey would hit the city I live in very hard. There was lots of work around the hospital as everyone got ready for the worst case scenario. Thank goodness the results differed from the predictions, though we did definitely see an increase in patients coming from the coast. I actually felt a little bad that my friends who live else where kept asking if I was okay and I had to explain that other than a brief power outage, I didn’t have anything to report.

But it reminded me of my elementary school guidance class where the teacher went over every type of natural disaster, leaving me slightly traumatized. My mom spent quite a long time convincing me the likelihood of all those natural disasters happening to our land-locked state was pretty slim. (I will admit that I spent a year checking to make sure the stove was off at night after the guidance teacher did the unit on house fires.) It just goes to show that kids can definitely be effected by natural disasters, regardless if they lived through one or not.

So how do you help a child process and cope with natural disasters? It’s obviously a conversation that must be had because everyone will at one point or another be effected by a natural disaster. And adults often find it difficult to start a conversation on such a heavy subject. Thankfully books can be a wonderful place to start. There are many resources out there (I always recommend checking your local library!) but I wanted to share one free resource from The National Child Traumatic Stress Network: Trinka and Sam: The Rainy Windy Day.

The story follows two children and how they handle a hurricane. I really like how it shows two different ways children can express themselves after experiencing a traumatic event. Not only that, but it shows appropriate ways that caregivers can respond to children who are processing the traumatic event. And bonus points: you can print it out and color it!

I hope you find this resource helpful! Please share it to anyone you think might find it helpful. And to all those who have been effected by the hurricanes, stay safe!!!

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