Tornado Recovery Causes Mental Health Concerns
The recovery from the tornadoes that swept through Moore will take years, but some of the wounds are more visible than others. Currently, many of those affected by the storm, such as Santa Fe Elementary School teachers Belinda Moreno, are throwing themselves into the cleanup efforts, but what they deal with once everything settles down could be much more troubling.
Morino and and Clift call their volunteer work therapeutic, but the trauma from the tragic events is still lurking.
“Replaying it all again in your head over and over again, and it’s not going away,” Moreno told Fox WBRC. Clifton added, “and there is some guilt, knowing I was not at the school at the time to be able to help out the kids.”
Guilt, anxiety, and sadness are all common in people who have experienced traumatic events, but they may become more problematic as time goes on, especially if they go untreated. That’s why many experts have urged any residents struggling with stress or anxiety to visit someone with a counseling background.
The Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services says that over 400 people are volunteering thei services and have been specially trained in handling disaster relief. They are uniquely educated in helping residents cope with the reality of everything that happened, and have been making themselves available in various areas of Moore and Oklahoma City.
“It’s when things start to slow down when we start to see things get harder. The nightmares start happening, some stress, anxiety, and that’s when we really need to check in on people and encourage them to go get the help they need,” Tania Rubio-Rosas of Oklahoma Department of Mental Health said.