Charleston, WV -- Crisis counseling is available to help West Virginia residents rebound from the state's floods and mudslides.
State and federal disaster recovery officials said the program, funded by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and administered by the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources, is still available to residents of the 22 counties that have been declared disaster areas.
"Losing a home, business, or personal property to disaster takes a financial toll on those affected," said Carlos Mitchell, coordinating officer for FEMA. "But personal well-being can be affected, too."
Common reactions to a disaster may include nightmares, difficulty sleeping, feelings of being overwhelmed, fear of the weather, anxiety about the future, difficulty making decisions, hopelessness, disappointment with outside help, headaches, increased anger or aggression, domestic violence, frustration, and feelings of powerlessness. These feelings can be exhibited by people of all ages, especially children and the elderly.
Parents can help their children cope by giving them undivided attention and listening carefully to their fears and concerns. In addition, parents should encourage their children to talk about their feelings, inform them about what is happening, and take time to have fun with them. "Adults and children affected by a disaster can be seriously stressed and confused by the sudden adversity in their world," said Dewight Stafford, a counselor from the Logan-Mingo Area Mental Health Center who has been active in outreach and assistance in areas affected by the floods. "We try to keep people from being overwhelmed and empower them to regain control of their lives. No one who experiences a disaster goes untouched by it."
Crisis counseling helps people recognize normal stress reactions and emotions caused or aggravated by a disaster and regain control of themselves and their environment.
Individuals who live in any of the affected 22 West Virginia counties and are interested in crisis counseling can call their local community behavioral health center for assistance. Questions and additional information about crisis counseling may be answered by calling 1-800-621-COPE.
Individuals who have suffered losses or damages from the floods can register for disaster assistance by calling 1-800-462-9029 between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. daily. The number for the speech and hearing-impaired is TTY 1-800-462-7585.