Red Cross mental-health volunteers help victims deal with emotional trauma from Hurricane Florence

PHOENIX – Physical destruction from hurricanes is easy to see, but such disasters also bring psychological and emotional damage to victims.

Lillian Ortiz was in Puerto Rico when Hurricane Maria struck just one year ago.

“This is what was traumatic to me, leaving and knowing the conditions, wondering if I couldn’t survive a night, wondering how are they going to survive this,” she said.

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Volunteers from the American Red Cross’ Disaster Mental Health Team have been in the Carolinas, helping the survivors of Hurricane Florence cope with high water, pollution and lack of basic necessities, for about a week. The volunteers also address the mental health needs of other Red Cross volunteers deployed to disaster sites, and they supplement local mental-health resources and support communities in building resilience, according to the Red Cross website.

“The truth is, they may get to a new normal, things may never be the same as what they were,” said Shannon Durham, a Red Cross regional mental health adviser. “They may not be able to live in the same home.”

The mental health team will be in the areas impacted by Florence for months if necessary.

If you want to help those affected by Hurricane Florence, you can visit the American Red Cross website for more information.

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