Stress After the Storm


Back to Family and Human Development Page


 A hurricane often causes more than property damage; it also brings a flood of emotions. How people deal with these emotional reactions may affect their recovery after the storm. People are very quick to pick up debris, make any necessary repairs to their property, and to help neighbors, but they may be neglecting their emotions which allow them to keep working for survival.

Many powerful feelings may surface: panic, feeling out of control, despair, anger, uncertainty, disorientation, depression, generosity toward others, cooperation, and/or team work. These feelings are very natural reactions to a traumatic situation.

It is important to pay attention to emotional reactions once the emergency crews go home. In order to cope with the aftermath of a hurricane, one of the first things people can do is pull together. It is important to ask for help. There are many people around who want to help and will help, but they just need to know what to do. Help from others may make the critical difference between coping and prolonged suffering.

It is also important for people to take care of their own physical and emotional needs by eating a balanced diet to fuel energy, and to get enough sleep. Allow time to heal and anticipate that this will be a difficult time in life. As people deal with a disaster, they should talk with others about their feelings and look for the positives in the situation.

Another way to cope is to establish or reestablish routines such as eating meals at regular times and following an exercise program. Even if you are in a shelter and unable to return home, establish routines that can bring comfort. Take some time off from the demands of daily life by pursuing hobbies or other enjoyable activities. Understanding your responses can aid in coping effectively with your feelings, thoughts, and behaviors, and help you along the path to recovery.

Sources: University of Illinois Extension &