LAREDO, Texas -- Residents of eight federally declared disaster counties in Texas who suffered losses and had their lives disrupted by Hurricane Alex and subsequent flooding will be able to get free crisis counseling to help ease their emotional stress, disaster officials announced today.
The outreach effort will provide screening, education and counseling at the request of individuals suffering from disaster-related pressure, worry or strain. It is not necessary to be registered with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to obtain counseling. This program provides short-term crisis counseling services as well as referral services and short-term intervention counseling.
Individuals needing assistance should call:
- Border Region
- Jim Hogg County, 800-287-4241
- Starr County, 800-687-4239
- Webb County, 800-643-1102
- Zapata County, 800-287-4240
- Camino Real
- Maverick County, 800-543-5750
- Hill Country
- Val Verde County, 877-446-0660
- Tropical Texas
- Cameron County, 877-289-7199
- Hidalgo County, 877-289-7199
Individuals living in counties other than the ones listed should contact the mental health agency in their local area or county.
"Disaster stress is common when people are frightened, thrust into strange new situations and forced to cope with major losses," said Ben Patterson, state coordinating officer for disaster recovery. Patterson emphasized that individuals seeking help are not mentally ill and that the grief and stress counseling provided is not professional therapy.
Patterson said anxiety in children and the elderly is a special concern in the aftermath of a major disruptive event such large-scale flooding.
"We try to keep individuals and families from being overwhelmed by the impact of a disaster by focusing on steps to help them regain control," said Patterson. "No one who experiences a disaster goes untouched by it."
The program is administered by the Department of State Health Services, Disaster Behavioral Health Services Branch with all costs reimbursed by FEMA. If warranted, the state may request a longer term counseling program. The program includes community outreach, consultation and education.
For more information on the Hurricane Alex disaster recovery, browse the features on this FEMA Web site at www.fema.gov/hazard/hurricane/2010/alex/index.shtm. Users of smart phones and other mobile devices can visit m.fema.gov. Texans should also visit www.txdps.state.tx.us/dem for more information on this disaster and preparation for future disasters.
The mission of the Texas Division of Emergency Management, Texas Department of Public Safety, is to support the citizens of Texas and local jurisdictions as they plan for, respond to, recover from and mitigate the impacts of all hazards, emergencies and disasters. For more information, see: www.txdps.state.tx.us/dem.
FEMA’s mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.