As Irma raged through the southeast, emergency crews risked their lives saving people from the deadly storm. Now crews are planning to counteract health dangers to come.
Directly following the storm, the biggest concern is getting people clean water.
“You can live without food for any number of days as long as you have water. People start dying within 72 hours,” said Eric Holdeman, director of the Center for Regional Disaster Resilience.
A few weeks from now the biggest concern could be insects and disease. They're spraying for mosquitoes in the flooded regions of Texas now, because they are worried about mosquitoes spreading Zika or West Nile virus, because of all the standing water left behind.
But perhaps the biggest issue following any disaster is psychological.
The stress of rebuilding adds to the trauma, so several things need to be in place for a community to begin healing.
“The three things that have to happen for a region to get back: You have to have schools, people have to have housing, and then you have to have jobs in place. All three of those things need to be there before psychologically the community is getting back together,” said Holdeman.
There are mental health services available for people immediately following the disaster.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration has a Distress Helpline providing 24-7 crisis counseling and support to people experiencing emotional distress related to natural or human-caused disasters.
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