Life is unpredictable. This truth is paramount with an oncoming hurricane or tropical storm. Many North Carolinians already live with daily anxiety and mental health concerns. How can we take special care of our mental-health in the wake of storm-related disarray?
This guide is for those feeling anxious, overwhelmed, and paralyzed because they are either facing a hurricane in North Carolina, or sharing the anxiety of loved ones in other states.
While we do not know the impact of Hurricane Irma, or any future hurricane, there are important actions that will help reestablish a sense of safety and personal empowerment in times of serious unknown. The more prepared we are, the more resilient we will feel during and in the aftermath of the storm. In the anxiety of prepping for a major storm, it is common to experience many defeating feelings. You are not alone in this stress. However, trust that there are small steps that we can take to gain strength despite the forecast.
- Gather as many basic needs as possible: clothes, food, water, prescriptions, pets’ needs, important papers, and crucial needs for your daily existence.
- Download the ReadyNC app. You can also find a helpful packing list and preparation guide there.
- Along with your local news station, follow the NC Emergency Management’s updates on social media.
- Check your local utilities’ organization emergency plan, write their number down, and stay connected with them after the storm for updates regarding fallen power lines and loss of power.
- Pre-plan a helpful routine for after the storm. This includes already having a friend or neighbor pinpointed as your “connection” friend, in which you both mutually check-in with each other after the storm. Ideally, set a time that you both agree to check-in with each other by.
- Along with a routine, go ahead and check with your pastor, library, or any community group that you belong to and ask if there are already plans in place where groups might be gathering together to clean-up or eat together. Storms can be very isolating, especially if phone lines and internet are down. It is helpful to our mental health to have an established plan to gather with familiar faces and feel less alone in the aftermath.
- The goal of setting a post-storm routine is that in the unknown, you at least know what you will be eating and which people you will be connecting with. Think basics.
- Take care of your mental-health needs. Treat emotional, behavioral, and mental health needs just as important as bodily concerns. Prioritize what will help you so that you can better take care of dependents such as children and pets.
- Keep an eye on roads even after the storm with delayed-flooding and river flooding.
- Even in the preparation and aftermath, consider short prayers that might be helpful in centering you. Perhaps pack a devotional that has been helpful in the past. Small moments of respite can offer power and healing.
This National Alliance on Mental Health blog contains many helpful websites and advice for mental health concerns, including hotlines for free counsel for victims of storms.
The full website of the Ready NC app. This site has crucial information in regards to preparing and the aftermath of storms. There is also information about how to get involved to help those impacted.
I hope this helps depower the decisions that need to be made. Our state has seen many storms; majority of us know the precautions. With a large percentage of our country dealing with various mental health concerns, it is important that those living with mental health illness take extra care of their needs and concerns in a productive and safe manner. Please reach out to trusted persons for help as needed.
Below is a short prayer that I have written for storm-preparation:
We give you thanks, God, for your constant love-
In times of disbelief and panic, you are with us.
In times of confusion and frantic problem-solving, you hear us.
We trust that you will never abandon us.
We pray for the strength and calmness that only you can provide.
In our depression, we ask for Hope.
In our anxiety, we ask for Guidance.
Please give us those strongholds in this storm.
Protect us and remove our fears so that we can rest in the truth that you are God.
We ask this knowing your love.
Lord, have mercy. Hear our prayer. Amen.