Uncertainty after Hurricane Ida takes toll on evacuees’ mental health

Published: Sep. 1, 2021 at 2:53 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 1, 2021 at 11:19 PM CDT
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SHREVEPORT, La. (KSLA) - Forceful wind and rain from Hurricane Ida wreaked havoc on southeast Louisiana, destroying people’s homes and property. Some evacuees packed their cars with as many of their belongings as they could and headed north.

As they wait until it is safe enough to return home, many say the uncertainty of the situation has taken a toll on their mental health.

“Not in my living days would I have imagined that happening, it’s just God’s will,” said Raymond Reno, St. Tammany resident

Brant Ockman evacuated with his family from St. Charles Parish. He said it was not an easy decision to make, but it was the right thing to do.

“It’s hard to evacuate; when you evacuate and go back home and see the devastation, it’s worth the evacuation,” Ockman said.

For some people, hurricanes can be stressful and traumatic for both adults and children.

“When you have people in that position, you want to try to do as much for them as you can,” Anthony Williams, Samaritan Counseling Center, clinical director, said.

“Children may not realize the full extent of the trauma but they are affected in ways that they cannot express,” Williams added.

Ashley Ellis of Lafourche Parish evacuated with her family. She says though the hurricane has taken a toll on her, things could have been worse.

“We got water in the house; our chimney was blown off. Sadly, that’s minimal to some homes we saw that was completely gone. It’s a lot, but we’re resilient, strong, and we have faith. It’s going to get better. It just takes some time,” Ellis said.

Ellis says she keeps her three children occupied, so they don’t stress over the aftermath of Hurricane Ida; however, if they ask her questions about the hurricane, she plans to be transparent with them.

“It’s probably a good idea to let them be part of the process so they learn what to do and what to see, and what questions to ask,” Ellis added.

Williams said being present helps both adults and children during life-changing experiences.

“Keep reassuring them at every instance that everything’s going to be okay,” Williams added. “You want to validate them and let them know what they’re feeling is okay.”

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