COLUMBIA, S.C. -- In response to a request made by Governor Hodges, crisis counseling services are now available for those affected by Hurricane Floyd and subsequent flooding, federal officials announced today.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has awarded the State of South Carolina $ 95,903 to provide crisis counseling for residents of seven counties declared eligible for federal assistance by the Presidential disaster declaration of September 21.
The counties are: Berkeley, Charleston, Colleton, Georgetown, Horry, Marion and Williamsburg.
FEMA awarded the grant to the South Carolina Department of Mental Health (DMH) to provide family therapy services as well as individual counseling and culturally appropriate supportive counseling.
"People in the declared areas have seen their lives severely affected by Hurricane Floyd and the terrible flooding it has caused," Federal Coordinating Officer Larry Bailey said in approving funds to support the program. "Recovery needs extend beyond physical and financial. FEMA's role is to provide citizens with the basic necessities to rebuild their lives," said Bailey.
DMH will be responsible for overall administration and implementation of the crisis counseling program. Crisis counseling, community education services, assistance and training are to be provided by staff of the Waccamaw Center for Mental Health and the Charleston/Dorchester Community Mental Health Center.
Ed Spencer, DMH Disaster Response Coordinator, points out that people who have gone through a disaster such as a flood may experience trouble sleeping, anxiety, irritability, depression, lack of concentration, hopelessness or even suicidal thoughts. They may have flashbacks of the hurricane or may turn to drugs or alcohol in an effort to escape the stress. "People who have had to leave their homes due to the storm are especially at risk for stress problems," Spencer warns.
These symptoms are very common but, in some cases, may persist for many months after the disaster. "Acknowledging your feelings and your stress is the first step toward disaster recovery," Spencer says. He suggests that talking about flood experiences and sharing feelings about them will help people feel better about what has happened.
Those in the declared counties who wish to talk to someone about their feelings regarding their flood losses are encouraged to contact their family doctor or their local mental health center. All calls will be kept confidential.