One of the frustrations of Hurricane Sandy is that even our best efforts could not prevent a huge amount of destruction. Consider my friend Adam Wexler, owner of Resolution Audio Video in the waterfront section of Red Hook in Brooklyn. Before the storm he moved all his equipment up to 5 foot high scaffolding and thought it was safe. But when he arrived at work on Tuesday, he found the steel doors to his building had been caved in by the force of the water, which reached a high water mark of 8 feet. His equipment was scattered and soaked.
As a clinical psychologist, I urge Adam and the millions of others affected by the hurricane to take a little time to acknowledge the internal turmoil caused by the days and possibly weeks of heightened stress. Don’t be dismissive of your own situation, even if it’s so much less horrific than the TV images of towns washed away and entire city blocks burnt to the ground. The more mundane after-effects such as power outages, downed trees, and difficult commutes, are also highly stressful. Everyone experiences and copes with trauma in different ways. Here are a variety of approaches, which I’ve found effective working with clients suffering traumatic events, that you can keep in mind as you deal with the aftermath of the hurricane.
Acknowledge your feelings. Whether you have lost your home, or have been deeply affected by watching images of these terrible events, you will have an emotional response. Research has shown that acknowledging and talking about your feelings immediately following a traumatic event can reduce the likelihood of later development of trauma-related disorders.