CHARLESTON, W. VA.-- There have been three, nearly back-to-back floods in West Virginia this year and Project Recovery has been an integral part of each recovery effort, providing free counseling to those who are suffering from disaster related stress.
Project Recovery workers are local people with an intimate understanding of their communities and people. Project Recovery’s outreach effort provides screening, education and counseling at the request of individuals. It is not necessary to be registered with Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to obtain counseling.
Counselors will visit community centers and neighborhoods in the 17 affected counties (Hancock, Ohio, Marshall, Wetzel, Tyler, Pleasants, Wirt, Kanawha, Nicholas, Lincoln, Boone, Greenbrier, Summers, Mercer, Mingo, Logan and Wyoming). Individuals may request counseling by calling this toll-free number: 1-866-867-8290. It is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week until further notice.
“Disasters are by their nature frightening. People are thrust into strange new situations and forced to cope with major losses,” said Steve Kappa, state coordinating officer for disaster recovery.
The Project Recovery program is run by the state of West Virginia, with all costs reimbursed by FEMA. If warranted, the state may request a long term counseling program. The program includes community outreach, consultation and education.
“In this season of celebration people are recovering from the flood disaster and feeling the economic adversity in a particularly intense way,” said Faith L. Stuart, director of the Data Integration and Security Division of the Office of Behavioral Health Services.
“People often want something close to the ideal, a well decorated home complete with gifts under the tree. They may be feeling frustrated and angry. They may feel they don’t have time to take care of themselves. Project Recovery outreach workers are available for individuals and groups, as listeners or educators, providing insights on how to cope with the added stress of the holidays.”
Outreach teams are composed of one team leader and five outreach workers. The team leader must be a licensed clinician. Teams are sent out in pairs when requested.
Deployed teams of six go through a two-day training program using the FEMA/Center for Mental Health Services (CMHS) manual, “Training Manual for Mental Health and Human Services Workers in Major Disasters.”
All Project Recovery services are FREE and participants do not have to be signed up with any other state or federal programs.
On March 1, 2003, FEMA became part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. FEMA's continuing mission within the new department is to lead the effort to prepare the nation for all hazards and effectively manage federal response and recovery efforts following any national incident. FEMA also initiates proactive mitigation activities, trains first responders, and manages the National Flood Insurance Program and the U.S. Fire Administration.