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There is Help for Those Coping with Stress


Joint Information Center

Disaster News

CONTACTS: FEMA/VDEM News Desk - (804) 217-8952 - NR # 32 DR-1491-VA
Colleen M. Hiam, SBA - (716) 282-4612, ext. 202


RICHMOND, VA - The emotional consequences of disasters like Hurricane Isabel can be far reaching and long lasting. Mental health experts say that stress can surface in many forms, and it often appears weeks or even months after the traumatic event.


If you or someone you know is suffering from signs of stress, you can get information on the nearest crisis counseling center by calling 1-866-400-2951. Those who may be speech or hearing impaired should call 711, the Virginia Relay number. The lines are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.


"Dealing with problems caused by the disaster can leave people feeling exhausted," said State Coordinating Officer Michael Cline. "Damages to home or property can be overwhelming, and disaster victims should know that sometimes it’s helpful to talk with someone about it."


Those who have suffered losses may be likely to experience at least one of several emotional responses: anger, fatigue, loss of appetite, sleeplessness, nightmares, depression, inability to concentrate, hyperactivity, or increased alcohol or drug use.


Mental health experts suggest a number of ways to relieve the symptoms of emotional distress:

  • Talk about your feelings with family, friends and neighbors. Friends and family are good medicine, and sharing common experiences helps people overcome anxiety and feelings of helplessness.
  • Get back into daily routines as soon as you can and maintain a healthy diet. Try to get plenty of sleep.
  • Get some physical exercise every day.


Children are particularly vulnerable to emotional stress after a disaster. Their stress symptoms may include excessive fear of the dark, crying, fear of being alone and constant worry. Reassure children that they are safe. Encourage them to talk about their fears. Emphasize that they are not responsible for what happened; hold and hug them frequently.


On March 1, 2003, FEMA became part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. FEMA's continuing mission within the new department is to lead the effort to prepare the nation for all hazards and effectively manage federal response and recovery efforts following any national incident. FEMA also initiates proactive mitigation activities, trains first responders, and manages Citizen Corps, the National Flood Insurance Program and the U.S. Fire Administration.



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