PANAMA CITY, Fla. – Amy Cross has difficulty explaining the stress of living in a city split by hurricane Michael.…
PANAMA CITY, Fla. – Amy Cross has difficulty explaining the stress of living in a city split by hurricane Michael. She is afraid of having heard shots at night and she is confused because she no longer recognizes the place where she has spent 45 years.
“I just know I do not really feel, and the home does not feel like home at all,” said Cross.
Health workers say they see signs of mental problems in the residents after Michael and the issues can continue, as a short-term disaster will be a long-term recovery that will take years.
Tony Averbuch, who leads a disaster healthcare staff who sees 80-100 patients daily in a tent in a parking lot of the badly injured hospital in the Bay Medical Sacred Heart, said some people showed signs of hijacking.
It’s not hard to imagine: just getting to the treatment site means navigating in streets with roadblocks and fallen toolbars and the hospital building itself has been ripped open by Michael’s powerful winds.
Signs of trauma are not a surprise for those who studied people after Hurricane Katrina 2005. Damage in Mexico Beach was similar to southern Mississippi, where all communities were flat by wind one and Panama City can take years to rebuild, as well as parts of New Orleans after the subway flooded.
Irwin Redlener from the National Center for Disaster Preparedness at Columbia University observed widespread long-term psychological effects after Katrina. One study showed that five years after the storm, parents reported that depression, anxiety or behavioral disorder had been diagnosed in more than 37 percent of the children.
Redlener said that it is partly because the parents are overwhelmed and can not buff their children from bad experiences.
“They survived a major catastrophic event, which is good. But everything they knew was gone,” he says.
Researcher David Murphey said the children were watching their parents for signals like how to respond to brand new and scary situations.
“If they see parents falling down at the seams, it will also create anxiety for the children,” he said.
The mayor of Panama City Greg Brudnicki said that a college football game was played. Saturday was part of the efforts to create normality. “
” People have been stressed. They have not had any way of communicating, no tools. It has been difficult. But we have worked very hard to create an environment that makes it as good as possible, “he says.