Hurricane Irene is heading up the East Coast threatening numerous states causing evacuations and distress to many individuals and communities. Mayor Bloomberg ordered the first mandatory evacuation of low lying waterfront areas today, which comprises of approximately 250,000 people, stating the evacuations need to be completed by 5 p.m. Saturday.
President Obama is urging all people to heed these evacuation warnings along with all other warnings.
The forecast prediction is that Irene may become a historical event. The storm may cause severe devastation to not only the environment and harm individuals, but also may cause shock, anxiety and trauma in those who are not physically harmed.
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Natural disasters can strike anywhere and at anytime. The climate anomalies destructive paths and damage cannot be ascertained until after the events have happened. Like the uncertainty with any severe weather, the people’s reactions to catastrophic events differ greatly. Some people may carry the traumatic experience for the rest of their lives while others appear to be resilient and bounce back.
Generally, the initial response to any emergency situation is to prioritize the most crucial needs first. This may reflect the hierarchy of needs (Maslow’s theory) by placing food, shelter and safety above all other (trivial) matters. Many go on ‘auto pilot’ to attend to these dire issues which may delay the actual realism of the present emergency.
In this case, it is not considered a denial, but a response to attend to the needs by mentally pushing back the emotional aspect of the situation. The emotions may become a barrier in accomplishing those needs.
Others are not able to attend to these dire issues as they cannot emotionally handle the emergency. They may not be able to think straight as their judgment is diverted from the emotional trauma they have encountered. Some may suffer from shock after natural disasters which may lead to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), therefore requiring an assessment from a medical professional.
The mental and emotional distress of any natural disaster may begin before the storm, during the storm or after the storm. Take precaution.
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