PANAMA CITY, FL- CBSNews.com reports that health workers are noticing mental problems in people impacted by Hurricane Michael. Recovering from the disaster will take years. People are seeking medical attention at tents set up by disaster medical assistance teams.
The winds from the storm knocked down utility lines and caused roads to be blocked with debris and obstructions. Even navigating to get to a location for medical care has become extremely challenging. The hospital was badly damaged in the storm as well. Hurricane Michael property damage claims are in the billions of dollars.
The people who call the disaster-stricken parts of Florida their home are struggling to cope with the stressful circumstances. One resident, Amy Cross, says that she is frightened after hearing gunshots in her city at night, and says that she hardly recognizes her home, the place where she has spent her whole life. Cross had to get medication to treat depression. She says that she is in “shock” and that the scene is “heartbreaking.”
Dr. Irwin Redlener is a researcher with Columbia University’s National Center for Disaster Preparedness. Redlener found that within five years after Hurricane Katrina ripped through New Orleans, 37 percent of children in the region had received a clinical diagnosis for anxiety, depression or behavioral disorders. The parents in these situations are often overwhelmed and struggle to serve as a buffer for their children. While these people survived the disaster, Redlener explains, “everything they knew is gone.” Children who see their parents falling apart are going to experience more anxiety.
Many people are expected to recover within a year, but others may experience long-term mental health issues.
Panama City resident 34-year-old Jessyka Bartice says that she hopes that the disaster will cause a drop-in crimes and racial strife because the people in the region have developed new and stronger community bonds.
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