|From the Editors|
As the most active Atlantic hurricane season on record comes to a close and the aftermath of two major hurricanes still have the gulf coast reeling, the theme of this newsletter focuses on disaster interventions. We have articles addressing ways to get involved on a global level and also best practices on our campuses.
On a personal level, when hurricane Katrina hit the gulf coast, Houston was one city that became home to many evacuees and survivors. As a trained Red Cross disaster mental health worker, I had the opportunity to volunteer and provide mental health services in a local shelter. Hearing first hand the stories of families literally ripped apart, people sleeping on rooftops for days as waters continued to rise, and young adults narrowly escaping extreme violence in New Orleans was somewhat overwhelming but mostly rewarding because we all know the importance of people being able to tell their stories and talk in depth about their experiences following a traumatic event. At that time, the thought never occurred to me that three weeks later I would become hurricane Rita evacuee and, after evacuating into the eventual path of the storm, a Rita survivor myself (although our family and property were unharmed). I was aware that some of my anticipatory anxiety was due to my experience volunteering in the shelter and hearing other’s stories, which highlights the importance of being aware of the effects of trauma work on volunteers and workers and the importance of workers being able to tell their own stories and share their experiences either formally or informally. My story is definitely not unique, but it certainly goes to prove that you can never predict when and where the next disaster will hit and when you will be needed.
Our feature article for this edition Is titled “Disaster Services: Making a Difference“ and is written by Dr. Eric Klingensmith who is the Coordinator of Crisis Intervention Services at Grand Valley State University. Eric is an expert in disaster psychology and writes about his disaster mental health work and ways to get involved with disaster response on a global level.
our campus, along with hundreds of others across the country, has taken on
students from hurricane affected schools on the gulf coast, and the question
arises about what kinds of services and programming to offer for these students,
many of whom have been significantly affected by this disaster. We have compiled a list of ideas for
disaster interventions on campus that you may find useful. In addition to these direct intervention
ideas, it is important for us to
also find ways to support the ways students might want to be involved (directly
or indirectly) in relief efforts, as these efforts may be their only way to feel
that they are helping and can experience some sense of control. Also included in this edition of the
newsletter you will find a column from our chair, Stacey Pearson. Thank you to David Gilles-Thomas for
uploading this newsletter and posting it on our website.
Cynthia A. Cook, Ph.D.
University of Houston – Clear Lake
Thompson-Leonardelli , Ph.D.
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Andrea Greenwood, Ph.D.
University at Buffalo