Peer posts (3 required) 200 words each Due (Sunday)
When looking into this week’s forum questions and also reading the required readings this week’s topic has really got my gears spinning and thought process going. No one ever really thinks about the big picture when it comes to the mental status of people as they are going through a big event or incident like the post hurricane disaster ones. The mindset that people get into whenever they are fighting to make ends meet during a disaster are tremendously different then their normal state of mind. This survival skill allows for the quick assessment of alternatives, selection of actions, and changes of plans as necessary given the conditions of the trauma (Shalev A. Y., 2000).
As we look into the many different should’ve could’ve would’ve situations that could have helped the people within the impacted hurricane area we will not change the outcome of future disasters by simply pointing the blame in someone else’s direction. We as a society must ensure that we just do aas much as we can to ensure it doesn’t happen again. The typical human response to disaster has been shown to follow three distinct phases: alarm, resistance, and return. The latter, return, can be either a return to equilibrium should the threat pass without necessary intervention by the human, or exhaustion should he or she be forced to engage other systems to survive (Seyle, 1956).
People who go through the mass disaster like Hurricane Katrina are defiantly going to be impacted mentally for the rest of their lives from going through such a drastically large event. Though some people will only have short term affects others may have longer term effects if not treated properly. The human biological response to disasters is a complex mechanism involving nearly all systems of the body. It involves not only biological defenses against threats known as the General Adaptation Response, but also learning and adaptation, recognition of social cues, ordering of cognitive disarray and chaos, and coping mechanisms for separation and loss (Shalev A. Y., 2000).
Seyle, H. (1956). The Stress of Life. New York: McGraw-Hill.
Shalev, A. V. (2002). Acute stress reaction in adults. Society of Biological Psychiatry, 532-543.
Before hurricane Maria, hurricane Katrina was the worst in modern America. After reading the article from Newsweek, although it is sad and hard to imagine the psychological state of the victims, let’s see if we can have a context around it.
Like every disaster, there is preparation phase, response phase, recovery phase and finally the mitigation phase. What we tend to forget more than often is the recovery phase of individuals impacted by the disaster and this case Katrina. Achieving the psychological recovery of victims requires a return to feelings of autonomy and control, thus allowing negative feelings such as inability and worthless to decline. Individuals exposed to a natural disaster also need to understand the event to which they were exposed, the role they may have played in the occurrence of this traumatic event and the feelings they experience. Allowing individuals to speak also helps to prevent the withdrawal reaction, which accompanies avoidance, which releases post-traumatic stress symptoms. In the case of Katrina, victims who gathered at the Superdome may feel comforted and strengthened by sharing their experience of suffering; but not everyone will have that mindset because trauma response is “based on their prior exposure to traumatic events, socioeconomic factors, age, gender, personality traits, cognitive skills, and relationships” (Kousky, 2016) with relatives and the community.
Bridging with others can be achieved as well as building or strengthening social relationships. In the article, this aspect has been materialized when Taphina moved to Houston to start a new life. Unfortunately, the environment change hasn’t worked for her.
In their process of exchange with other victims, individuals can see the strength and courage of the group, they can also mitigate their feelings of isolation and devaluation caused by their exposure to a disaster. In their discussions with FEMA and public health authorities, victims should be informed of the difficulties they face and the possible solutions available to them.
Survivors of a natural disaster also need to hear that normal reactions to trauma are anxiety, insomnia, and hyperactivity. In addition, they should be aware that these symptoms can be effectively treated so they do not feel helpless. In addition, a replenishment of basic resources can help especially getting a new job, cash from FEMA, a new apartment or new car. However, for those new resources to provide satisfaction and dilute the trauma and not pushing individuals into PTSD, they have to work. Again, going back to Taphina, her car engine has catch fire and that alone is another stressor.
From this week reading, victims of disasters have the drive to take steps that” tend to become focused and directed toward accomplishment of specific goals” (Week 3 reading) and accomplishing those goals represents the only thing in their minds and bring them back to a sense of self-worth again.
Kousky, C. (2016). Impacts of natural disasters on children. The Future of Children, 26(1) Retrieved from https://search-proquest-com.ezproxy1.apus.edu/docview/1802730486?accountid=8289
In a city of vitality, life, hope and passion it is easy to see how residents in New Orleans would have truly believed they possessed a safe refuge from the storm. The city they loved and were a part of that always provided the sense of home surely could continue to provide safety, after all home is your safe haven. This false sense of security can lead people into making foolish mistakes and reacting at times in a disaster in a nonsensical type manner. In a Newsweek article a mother described her life in New Orleans as hopeful “It was enough to make her finally feel hopeful about her future. “I felt like I was accomplishing something with my life,” (Campo-Flores, 2006). This was the sense of her love for her home that she felt before Hurricane Katrina ravaged her life and her hope for a future.
Despite all of the warnings and the news coverage put out to the public regarding Hurricane Katrina and the threats it posed, many residents chose not to evacuate the city. Many stayed and for many this decision to stay altered their lives forever. As Hurricane Katrina continued to grow in strength and size beginning to cause disaster after disaster, many of those who did not evacuated found themselves in a state of shock and panic. The human responses of Fight or Flight began to kick in. The stage of flight is where people exhibit fear and try to escape from the occurrence of an emergency or disaster. A large portion of the public that didn’t evacuate were those from impoverished areas around New Orleans. Many people suffered physiological trauma that will affect them for the rest of their lives from this tragedy. The rate at which our government did and also did not respond to this tragedy impacted lives, the outcome and rebuilding that will last decades. The stories of loss of loved ones, property, abuse, the loss of self and security and safety began to circulate. It was a frenzy and the impacted many began to feel even more lost. The director of FEMA was even quoted as saying “that he’d been unaware of the thousands gathered at the Convention Center. Later that evening an incredulous Ted Koppel on ABC was left with no choice but to ask if the FEMA director was watching the same television coverage as the rest of the nation. (Williams, 2005). The nation and the world watched on as lives were at a standstill as the stories of the impacted flowed out.
The unfolding events that paralleled Hurricane Katrina as it raged on New Orleans was one of the largest most devastating events in our history. It is the story of disaster and human tragedy that the U.S. continues to be challenged with.
The disaster did allow fellow Americans to step back and be introspective as they watched it’s unfolding. It shed light on the level of poverty in this country. In addition, it posed questions for future preparedness of natural disasters and opened new doors for medicine and recovery. As so many watched on and were also psychologically affected, it broadened the sense of humanity in many. How can one help his or her fellow man or women? How can man best care for his or her loved ones? The psychological effects of Hurricane Katrina were life changing for many people. Many suffered psychological, financial and emotional damage and losses that will never be recouped. It takes a community of people to heal people affected by tragedy, a community of people who give the feeling of home and sense of self a new beginning. Human responses to disasters will vary but human strength, compassion and adaptability continue to drive men forward.
CampCampo-Flores, A. (2006). Symbol of the storm. News Week, 2.
WilliaWilliams, B. (2005). Eve of the destruction . NY New York: NBC News.