At Katrina Anniversary, Uncertainly Resurfaces for People along Gulf Coast
DUBOIS – With Isaac poised to make landfall in the same areas of the Gulf Coast struck by Hurricane Katrina seven years ago, the American Red Cross has a series of tips for families and individuals in the region that may experience anxiety about the storm and anniversary.
“The combination of the approaching storm and Katrina anniversary will likely cause increased fear and unease for residents in New Orleans and along coastal communities as people relive difficult emotions,” said Rob Yin, manager of disaster mental health, American Red Cross.
“It’s important that people remember to take care of themselves and make appropriate disaster preparations to stay safe which can also help to reduce stress. Don’t forget to reach out to others to offer or get help if you need it.”
Across multiple states along the Gulf, the Red Cross has launched a large disaster response as Isaac affects millions of lives with strong winds, heavy rain, flooding and coastal surges. Monday night, nearly 800 people found a safe haven in 52 shelters open in five states.
In addition, the Red Cross has mobilized 2,400 disaster workers, prepositioned 290,000 ready-to-eat meals and activated 187 emergency response vehicles from across the country to help. The Red Cross is also coordinating with multiple partners including a variety of civic groups, advocacy organizations, professional organizations and houses of worship to share their expertise and volunteers.
The American Red Cross Western Pennsylvania Region is doing its part to help and has deployed 15 local Red Cross workers and three Emergency Response Vehicles. Those deployed from the region include Clair Bartlet of Parker, Donna Brown of Erie, Ken Brown of Jefferson Hills, June Bujnoski of Millcreek, Tom Bujnoski of Millcreek, Kay Caldwell of Parker, Theresa Creighan of Oakmont, John Fill of Fairview Township, Monica Fill of Fairview Township, Merry Gene of Parker, Daniel Greenlee of New Castle, Joseph Korinchak of Gibsonia, Rose Marie Malizio of Heidelberg, Denae McCall of Shaler and Jeanette Patsakis of Mount Lebanon.
A number of other local volunteers have been put on alert and are prepared to deploy if needed.
COPING WITH ANNIVERSARY KATRINA STRESS
The following actions can help families and individuals cope with anniversary stress reactions:
- Stay informed, and be prepared. If in the potential path of an approaching storm, pay attention to information and warnings from local authorities.
- Make sure your disaster kit and plans are complete. Being prepared for storms can reduce stress;
- Eat healthy. During times of stress it is important to maintain a balanced diet and drink plenty of water;
- Get some rest. Giving your mind and body a break can help you cope with stress;
- Stay connected with family and friends. Giving and receiving support is one of the most important things you can do;
- Be patient with yourself and those around you. Recognize that people may need time to put their feelings and thoughts in order;
- Stay positive. Remind yourself how you’ve successfully coped with stress in the past. Reach out when you need support, and help others when they need it.
- Reach out to a Red Cross Disaster Mental Health or community mental health professional for support, if the actions above don’t help or to get more support. You can also contact the 24 hour National Disaster Distress Hotline at 1-800-985-5990.
SEPTEMBER IS NATIONAL PREPAREDNESS MONTH
September is National Preparedness Month, and with Isaac looming, preparedness should be in the forefront of everyone’s minds.
People along the Gulf Coast should follow instructions from officials and obey evacuation orders. Those going to a shelter should remember to bring: Prescription medicine, identification and valuable papers, toiletries, change of clothing, water, non-perishable food, blankets, pillows and or sleeping bags, baby food and diapers and or other necessary items.
People along the coast and in states in its path should stay informed on the storm’s progress from the National Weather Service. Downloading the Red Cross Hurricane App for mobile devices provides important safety information.
People who live farther to the north should finish their storm preparations now. Heavy rain and winds are expected as Isaac marches on over the next few days.
- Stay informed on the storm’s progress from the National Weather Service.
- Listen to the advice of local emergency officials. If asked to evacuate, do so immediately. Avoid flooded roads and washed out bridges.
- Check and restock or replace disaster supplies. Keep vehicle gas tanks filled.
- Get ready to bring anything inside that can be picked up by the wind such as lawn furniture and bicycles.
- Close windows, doors and hurricane shutters. If you don’t have hurricane shutters, close and board up all windows and doors with plywood.
- If you are asked to shelter in place, remain in your home until conditions improve. If possible, keep your cell phone charged and have extra batteries available for flashlights.
Isaac is predicted to trigger a large and prolonged disaster response with major flooding across several states. People can call, click or text to donate by visiting www.redcross.org, calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or texting REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.