Contributed by Terry Bascom
Even though it has been almost a year since Tropical Storm Irene wreaked havoc on Vermont, many Vermonters are still experiencing complications in their efforts to recover their lives and adapt to new circumstances. Some survivors are just now beginning to experience the shock that hit them, which was suppressed while they addressed their most pressing needs to find food, shelter and long-term safety.
Often, it is only after we have taken care of our most basic needs that we human beings allow ourselves to feel the shock and fear that has gripped us and motivated us for months. Also, it is not unusual for survivors to experience the return of stress reactions, or to experience heightened reactions to a disaster as we approach the first anniversary.
Here in Plymouth and across the state a FEMA-funded response to Tropical Storm Irene, called Starting Over Strong Vermont (SOSVT), has been helping individuals and communities understand the psychological responses to disasters, the process of recovery, and the ways good friends and neighbors can continue to support affected individuals move toward stability, safety, and a new sense of normalcy.
SOSVT personnel have been on the ground since last September; we are funded through this October. As we approach the end of our grant period we are turning our attention to community awareness and education. Our goal now is to educate as many people as we can in as many ways as we can about the process of recovery from disaster, how to spot stress reactions, simple techniques to help yourself or someone you know when disaster-related stress begins to show itself, and how to prepare for future emergencies.
Here are a selection of resources, materials and websites that can help you to better understand the recovery process, learn how to be a genuine help to others in their times of stress, and equip yourself to better respond to a future crisis.
Psychological First Aid
The Disaster Recovery Cycle – a brief overview of the process of recovery following a disaster
Understanding Emotional Reactions in Ourselves and Those We Care For
What to Expect in Your Personal, Family, Work and Financial Life after a Crisis
Tips for Survivors of a Traumatic Event: Managing Your Stress
Listen, Protect, and Connect: Families and Communities – a guide to help communities help one another in times of disaster
Easy Psychological First Aid – a simple way to help when a person is caught up in anxiety or stress
Children and Families
Listen, Protect, and Connect: Parents and Children – a guide for parents to help address family and child stress, including some self-directed analysis worksheets
Helping Young Children Heal after a Hurricane
Parent Guidelines for Helping Children after a Hurricane
Tips for Talking to Children and Youth after Traumatic Events
Trinka and Sam – a story to help young children deal with their feelings after a hurricane
School Curriculum – graded units to help teachers address disasters in their classrooms
Surviving Field Stress for Responders – the draft of a manual that discusses the body’s response to high-stress situations, how that manifests, how responders can moderate personal stress, help one another, and recognize and treat stress in the public
First Responder Stress – a brief outline suitable for a responder education component
Family Emergency Plan – a downloadable planning document with wallet card-sized reminders of key information
Basic Disaster Supply Kit – basic and supplemental supplies recommended by the U.S. government. Be sure to also review the links “Maintaining Your Kit,” “Kit Storage Locations,” “Water,” and “Food.”
Community Preparedness – Government guidance on building a local infrastructure in advance of disaster
Other Helpful Information
Flood Clean-up and Mitigation – Guidance from the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources
Emergency Preparation for Pet Owners
Emergency Preparation for Older Persons
Emergency Preparation for People with Disabilities
More resources are located on our website, Starting Over Strong Vermont. To speak with a team member, call us toll-free at: (855) 767-8800.