Surviving a Hurricane – Emotional Stress and Fears

How to you survive a hurricane

Surviving a Hurricane emotionally is something that is not covered widely in the news.

They cover the clean up, the cost of the devastation, the loss of life and how long it is going to rebuild the infrastructure.

You do not hear or read too much about the emotional effect it has on everyone.  I have just survived Hurricane Mathew and for me it was very stressful.  More stressful than I thought it would be. Knowing all the tools I have and how I teach all my clients to overcome stress, this was a big surprise to me that I was having such a stressful time.    Hurricane Matthew

I have lots of friends and family throughout Florida and South Carolina and through Facebook was keeping up to date with what everyone was going through.  Some of my friends were terrified and some were just riding it out and having parties. I must admit the night before  Matthew was meant to hit us my husband and I did go to a local restaurant for a hurricane party.

The reality hit when we had to put the shutters up, fill the bath with water and make sure all the necessary emergency supplies were at hand in case we lost power.  We were now shut in – in the dark with the lights on all day waiting for the storm.   We could not see out the windows so had to keep opening the front door so we could see what was going on outside.  The Weather Channel was on constantly so we could see what was happening and facebook was also keeping us updated.

My stress level was getting worse, I was tapping madly to keep myself calm and was again surprised at how this hurricane was making me feel so stressed.

My main point here is, if someone like me who has been teaching how to manage stress for more than 20 years can become stressful with a hurricane, how are the people without the knowledge and tools feeling, how stressed and afraid are they?

The Hurricane has now passed out of reach for the moment but there is a possibility it will turn and come back and then there is another one on the tail of this one called Nicole and she is set to hit also.  How is the stress level of millions of people right now.?  Dealing with the aftermath of Matthew, waiting for him to come back and then prepare for Nicole to hit also.  At the time of writing this there were more than 800 deaths due to Matthew

How do you survive?

If you were affected directly by losing someone to the hurricane, the grief you go through is that of extreme loss and you must get professional help to deal with this loss.  Having a support system is also key.  There are ways to get financial support if you look through your local area and find the different fundings available.  As the President declared a state of emergency there will be some National funding as well.

Support groups can be found and if there are none, -set one up yourself so that you can all share your experiences and know you are not alone.  Please do not overlook the children, even the very young will have been affected by all the insecure moments and fears felt by the adults.  If you were evacuated then the children will have been taken out of their routine and seen and felt the stress and panic from everyone around them.

There are helplines you can also use where there are professionals who can talk you through the crisis, fear, stress, and panic of what to do next. images-5-copy

This is ongoing, this is not something that goes away as soon as the storm leaves.  When the last hurricane came through Florida I had a 4 year old client who was scared of the wind.  Even a slight breeze would send this child into hysterics. Please be aware of what your children and family and friends are going through.   Also please check on your elderly neighbors who are also going through emotional stress right now.

As I have said in my previous posts Emotional Freedom Techniques is a great tool to use for this and so easy to teach your kids also,images-6-copy

Moving Forward

As I said this is not something that some people will get over in a few days, some people are going to carry this with them for some time.  Get help as soon as you can there are so many resources for you to choose from, please use them.  Here are a few.

 


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https://give.salvationarmyusa.org/site/Donation2;jsessionid=00000000.app358a?idb=1039759497&DONATION_LEVEL_ID_SELECTED=1&df_id=17583&mfc_pref=T&17583.donation=form1&NONCE_TOKEN=F3D78761784AE6ACE562F41D344F0A4B&idb=0

 

There are many more sites and help available just search from them in your local area and you will find them.  You are not alone in this and your emotional state is real.  If you are afraid to go outside then please call someone and they can help you over the phone, skype or come and visit you.

Stay safe and please remember stress and fear are real and  although you may feel safe right now you are still carrying those emotions around.  Deal with them so they do not build up and affect your health.

I am dealing with mine right now and will continue to do so over this coming week-end.

Stay safe – Helen


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20 Comments

  1. James W D

    Helen you bring up so many valid points here that I don’t even know where to start. I can only imagine how stressful it is to live through a hurricane. Where I live we rarely see any of them and even if we do it is basically just the “leftovers” of it without the ferocity.

    What I really appreciate though is that even though your profession is to help people with stress like this that you still felt it yourself. Even teachers are not above the lessons that they teach. They still have to experience it like the rest of us, but it gives them an opportunity to show strength and the value in what they teach.

    Reply
    1. Helen Vella (Post author)

      Thank you James I appreciate your comments.I like to be authentic, this helps me understand my clients more and therefore can help them more.

      Reply
  2. Elroy French

    Hi Helen; What a great post. We live on the praires in Canada so not to affected by huricanes but we do have the odd tornado. We have children and grand childern in Daytona Beach. They are ok thank God. Would like to know if we can send yhem your website.
    Great job on thepost.

    Reply
    1. Helen Vella (Post author)

      Thank you and please share my site with anyone you like I would appreciate it so much.

      Reply
  3. Lawrence Gregory

    Hello Helen

    “They cover the clean up, the cost of the devastation, the loss of life and how long it is going to rebuild the infrastructure.

    You do not hear or read too much about the emotional effect it has on everyone.”

    This stood out to me very much because you’re right!… it’s never mentioned in the news, at least not enough as it should be.

    Thank you for sharing this post with us =)

    Reply
    1. Helen Vella (Post author)

      So glad you agree, doing what I do for a living I am always looking at the emotional response and emotional effects day to day life bring upon us. Stress is very real and very bad.

      Reply
  4. Netta Kanoho

    I live in Hawaii. Every hurricane season we have a “train” of tropical storms and hurricanes coming at us. The reality of the stresses and emotional trauma connected to the impending storms and the aftermaths of the few storms that actually hit are very real. You are absolutely right that you do need to deal with the issues that arise as a result of possible (or real) disasters.

    Your information is thoroughly presented and right on. Thank you.

    Reply
    1. Helen Vella (Post author)

      Thank you so much, I appreciate your comments. Stress and Anxiety are emotions we should not be playing around with, if not treated then can lead to all sorts of ailments.

      Reply
  5. Mohammad Makki

    This was honestly pretty sad to read. I’m happy you got out all right. I’ve been through a disaster or two, but never something bad as a hurricane. It must have been very traumatic. It’s great to hear this from a unique viewpoint such as yours. It really helps to get the message out. Thanks for sharing this!

    Reply
    1. Helen Vella (Post author)

      Thank you, hopefully people will seek emotional help if they every go through some trauma like this.

      Reply
  6. Helen Doyle

    Helen, I have a old (86 years) friend in Florida who is not too well and fortunately with Matthew he didn’t lose power so I could keep in contact. He is a very capable man and appears to handle things like this very well. Some can and some can’t.

    I lived in the north east of New South Wales and was on the natural disaster team. So I had a great deal of exposure to the aftermath of cyclones (those storms that spin in the opposite direction). The natural disaster program has gone on for years here and the response is already set in place before the cyclone, freak storms and the like hit. Therefore our response was immediate. And I believe that is why we don’t get too antsy about them. (We were appalled at the slowness of the response to Hurricane Katrina.)

    Teams start the recovery as soon as possible and all levels of government respond with the community pulling together. The clubs open their doors and are prepared for temporary residents to ‘sleep over’, their cafeterias are stocked up etc. The government reimburses them after things settle down.

    During the incidents the adrenaline has set in and after them everyone helps each other. So stress doesn’t appear right away. By the time it does most people have balanced it with the satisfaction of helping out. For the others, organisations like the Red Cross, the Salvation Army and Life Line have their helpers ready to offer a guiding hand.

    Something you might like to point out is that all households should have a battery powered radio (you know the old ghetto blaster type)in case the power goes out. I had to point out to our control centre, when they went completely digital, that no power, no TV, Computer nor plug in radios!

    Ciao
    Helen

    Reply
    1. Helen Vella (Post author)

      Thanks Helen for this info and your comments always good to hear how different parts of the world deal with different disasters. I know when I lived in Australia I lived through a few different things all of which add to our stress and anxiety which has to be dealt with.

      Reply
  7. Valina

    Hey Helen,

    before Matthew became a hurricane he visited us (on the island of Dominica) as a tropical storm.
    I was up in the mountains at the time, housesitting for friends; the wind was so fierce and the rains so heavy, I must admit i was at times afraid, although i actually KNOW that i am guided and protected by spirit.
    I pray for all those who were affected, it touched me deeply… and yet there is not much we can do except to be prepared and sit it out during the yearly hurricane season.
    Thanks for your article
    all the best
    valina

    Reply
    1. Helen Vella (Post author)

      Thank you for sharing your story and I am glad you feel safe and protected. There are still those that have emotional trauma even though they are physically ok and I hope these people find a way to deal with those emotions.

      Reply
  8. Joyce

    Amazing that you were able to live through a natural disaster and tell about it. It’s also very interesting because you never hear how bad the aftermath can be emotionally or how scary it really is. I live in Canada. So I’m fortunate not to have experienced it. Thank you for posting this ?

    Reply
    1. Helen Vella (Post author)

      Emotional Trauma is something we have to deal with every day in different degrees. Having tools to cope with them is the important thing. Thank you for your comments.

      Reply
  9. Fray

    Hey Helen,

    I’m in the UK, where thankfully storms are not such a serious concern. With the media coverage these days it’s highly likely that the hurricane will be used as a talking point in the election, and then forgotten about when the next ‘breaking news’ comes along.

    Your article helps us to remember the human cost behind the headlines, and how for some people the nightmare goes on long after the rain has passed.

    I have a friend over there, but thankfully they managed to escape without incident. I hope your other readers were equally as lucky.

    The human spirit is strong. The people will endure, and eventually rebuild. I hope that at least is a calming thought.

    Reply
    1. Helen Vella (Post author)

      Originally from the Uk myself. Yes it goes on long after things have become news worthy, and the human spirit is very strong. Hurricanes and natural disasters are not things to take lightly.

      Reply
  10. Kenny Lee

    Helen,

    I’m glad you are all right. I’ll just say I’m blessed to be living in a country that’s free from natural disaster relatively. I can imagine the emotional turmoil that you are going through and also other victims of the hurricane. In these situations, fear and stress became our survival guide. I hope you are getting on all right.

    Kenny.

    Reply
    1. Helen Vella (Post author)

      Thank you, but there are a lot who are not. Even the ones that are ok are still feeling the stress too. Stress now causes our flight or fight response to activate and this then leads to anxiety.

      Reply

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