RALEIGH, N.C. -- People in 31 of North Carolina's federally declared disaster counties who have suffered losses and had their lives disrupted by Hurricane Floyd will be able to get free crisis counseling to help ease their emotional stress, disaster officials said Sunday.
North Carolina's application for an $868,000 grant to pay for 60 days of professional counseling services was approved by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). It will provide screening, diagnostic services and counseling for disaster victims at their request.
Counselors will provide help in some neighborhoods and at Disaster Recovery Centers in the flooded counties. It is not necessary to be registered with FEMA to obtain counseling. Individuals may request counseling through the FEMA Helpline at 1-800-525-0321 or, for those with speech or hearing impairments, at 1-800-462-7585. Lines are open daily from 8 a.m.to 6 p.m. "Disaster stress is common when people are frightened, thrust into strange new situations and forced to cope with major losses," said Paul Fay, FEMA's Human Services branch chief. Fay emphasized that disaster victims are not mentally ill, nor are the counselors therapists.
"People affected by a disaster can be seriously stressed and confused by the sudden adversity in their world. We try to keep them from being overwhelmed and empower them to regain control of their lives," said Fay."No one who experiences a disaster goes untouched by it."
If warranted, the state may request a longer term counseling program. Children and the elderly are special concerns in the aftermath of a major disaster. The program includes community outreach, consultation and education.
Counties that will be offering crisis counseling are: Beaufort, Bertie, Bladen, Brunswick, Carteret,Columbus, Craven, Duplin, Edgecombe, Gates, Greene, Halifax, Hertford, Hyde, Jones, Lenoir, Martin, Nash, New Hanover, Northampton, Onslow, Pamlico, Pender, Pitt, Robeson, Sampson, Scotland, Tyrell, Washington, Wayne, Wilson.