Coping with stress after the storm
Posted on Sep 13, 2023 at 10:31 AM
While Hurricane Idalia left a trail of physical destruction in its wake. Downed trees, damaged crops, lost livestock, destroyed farm buildings and forced farmers into extended recovery mode.
Those things are accompanied by mental stress, perhaps beyond what farmers normally face.
Echols County farmer Justin Corbett, whose family’s farm had extensive damage, tried to keep the storm damage in perspective.
“It’s stressful,” he said, but, “my family is okay and that’s the most important thing.”
He understands how true that statement is because Idalia blew out an upstairs window in his and his wife, Brandy’s house, an entrance door and damaged their garage door.
He had just returned to the house from using a frontend loader to push a pine tree away from his house when the winds damaged the house.
“I was running around trying to board things up and we had the girls in the hallway where there are no windows. We just tried to keep them calm,” Justin said.
Dr. Anna Scheyett, a professor in the University of Georgia School of Social Work, offered tips for dealing with the mental toll from a disaster in a blog post on the Thriving on the Farm section of the Rural Georgia: Growing Stronger website.
“And even if you didn’t get damage, the stress of not knowing and waiting to see what the storm would do is huge—don’t underestimate what that does to you,” Scheyett wrote.
Coping After a Disaster
While farmers may still be talking with insurance adjusters, repair people, FSA, and others. Scheyett offered a remember that they need to stay strong to deal with all of this, which means taking care of themselves.
The CDC has some very helpful steps you can take for coping after a disaster:
• Take care of your body: Remember to eat, sleep, and avoid coping through alcohol and tobacco;
• Connect with others: Talk with your support system about your concerns and how you’re doing
• Take breaks: No one can go 24/7; make time to unwind;
• Stay informed: Check trusted sources to get good information, and remember that during a crisis not all information on social media is reliable;
• Avoid too much exposure to news: Take breaks from watching, reading, listening to news stories. At some point you are not learning anything new, and the works and picture are simply upsetting and exhausting;
• Seek support if you need it: if you’re finding it hard to function for several days or weeks, contact a support person—your doctor, clergy, or a counselor. Remember you can always call or
text 988 (Crisis Lifeline)
Those who have or work with children may be wondering how to help them after the storm.
Here’s what the CDC recommends for helping children cope with a disaster:
• Talk with them: Share age-appropriate information, reassure them, answer questions and clarify rumors;
• Set a good example by taking care of yourself;
• Limit their exposure to media and social media coverage of the storm;
• Extension has lots of resources as well.