San Juan, PR -- The PR Mental Health and Anti-Addiction Services Administration received from FEMA a $70,000 grant under the Crisis Counseling Program to work with residents affected by the May 6 - 11 floods, to enable the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico respond to the immediate mental health needs with crisis counseling services. The program services were provided throughout the FEMA Disaster Recovery Centers and will be available until July 16, 2001.
"Losing a home, business, or personal property to disaster takes a financial toll on victims," said Justo Hernández, federal coordinating officer. "But the emotional toll a disaster exacts can be devastating to families, and especially children. That is why a victim's emotional recovery also needs to be addressed."
According to mental health experts, the stress and disruption caused by natural disaster may affect children more than anyone, and the parents should be alert to signs of trouble and behaviors such as, crying more frequently than usual, clinging, having nightmares, showing excessive fear of the dark or fear of animals or being alone, changing appetites, speaking with difficulty, or returning to behaviors which had been outgrown, such as bed-wetting or thumb-sucking.
In order to deliver vital assistance to the children, Crisis Counseling Program staff and several voluntary agencies (VOLAG) have coordinated the "Campamento de Noé" summer camp, free of charge, for the children affected by the floods, in several disaster declared municipalities. Among the participating organizations include the Civil Air Patrol, and the Lutheran Disaster Response.
"Created as an additional support for children affected by the floods, "Campamento de Noé" seeks to help them process the disaster experience and return to their normal life. The teachers and counselors work towards the emotional recovery of the participating children through games and other activities," said Hernández.
The program incorporates the story of Noah's Ark as the central theme, which will include disaster Preparedness, Evacuation, Temporary Sheltering, Signs of A New Life and Hope for the Future. This day camp will take place July 12-13 in Yauco at the First Baptist Church. Similar day camps will be held in the municipalities of Cabo Rojo, Guayanilla and Rincón.