NON-CRISIS 1-800-299-3699

NON-CRISIS 1-806-337-1000

Disaster Relief – Coping After the Wildfire

Coping After the Wildfire

No one who experiences a disaster is untouched by it.

Most of us will experience some distress after a disaster or traumatic event. Some common reactions include feelings of sadness, frustration, anxiety, depression, and anger. Initially, many people feel overwhelmed and worried. These feelings may last for weeks or even months. It is very important to remember that you, your family, and your neighbors are all experiencing common reactions to an abnormal event. Some things you may experience include: difficulty sleeping, withdrawing from others, feeling hopeless or irritable, and having trouble concentrating, or even questioning your spiritual beliefs.

Recovery and healing after the wildfires will take time but you can also do things for yourself and your families that will help you cope along the way. Talk to others about how you feel. Take care of your physical health. Connect with your community where you feel safe talking about your common experiences and feelings. Find time to relax. Try to keep family routines in place.

Children Coping After the Wildfire

Children can experience distress after a disaster or traumatic event. Some common reactions include crying, increased irritability, changes in eating habits, stomachaches and headaches, bad dreams, and regressing to immature behaviors like bed-wetting and thumb-sucking. Preschool-age and younger children may not have words to describe their experiences, but that does not mean they are unaware of the circumstances around them. Children from about age six to eleven are better able to understand the consequences of a disaster which may cause them to feel sadness, anger and grief over losses. Adolescents commonly experience intense emotions following a disaster by feeling overwhelmed and unable to talk about their feelings. Give children opportunities to talk this will help relieve their stress. Provide children with a safe environment to feel and express their emotions. Tell children the truth about the disaster making sure the amount and kind of information you tell them is age-appropriate. Reassure children that adults are doing everything they can. Talk to children about your family’s faith traditions. Keep daily routines intact as much as possible, routines will offer a sense of stability in times of uncertainty.

Elderly Coping After the Wildfire

During the aftermath of a disaster, it is important to be supportive of older family members. Health problems, fixed incomes and lack of awareness about disaster aid are all contributing factors to emotional and physical stress. The elderly are also a preferred target of fraudulent contractors. Common reactions that older adults may experience include confusion and disorientation, concealing or not wanting to know the full extent of damage, fear of losing independence or being sent to a nursing home, withdrawal and isolation, apathy or believing they are too old to start over again, irritability, anger or suspicion, and grief over losses from the past. During the hectic period of recovery, older family members can be unintentionally overlooked. Be mindful of their needs and make sure to offer emotional support and practical help. Suggested ways to help would be to visit and phone your elderly loved ones regularly, listen to their concerns, help them maintain daily routines, offer to provide transportation, help them deal with insurance companies, find out about disaster recovery aid, help fill out paperwork and keep appointments, be honest with them and if necessary suggest alternatives to rebuilding, connect them to social services for senior citizens, help them stay involved with their social and faith communities, and encourage them to report fraud or abuse to authorities.