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Like the hurricanes themselves, news of Irma and Harvey has been impossible to escape in recent weeks. As the death and financial tolls continue to climb, at least 140 people were killed during and after the two major hurricanes.
The estimated damage from each storm is in the hundreds of billions. Entire communities lay destroyed. Some families lost everything- their homes, their cars and, for some, even their loved ones.
Financial and physical tolls on people can be measured, but what about the mental and emotional toll?
“[The loss from these storms] is a stressful and potentially traumatic experience,” said Susan Clayton, psychology chair at the College of Wooster. “People who have lost jobs, homes, valued possessions, loved ones, or pets may feel that some of the core aspects of their identities, the things that define them, are missing.”
Clayton was part a team that looked into the effects climate change is having on mental health. Researchers found that severe weather disasters can leave people suffering from trauma and shock due to experiences like physical injury or losing a loved one. In some cases, once the trauma or shock subside, victims are left with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Other studies in the past have looked at the relationship between PTSD and natural disasters. One surveyed low-income mothers who survived Hurricane Katrina, finding that victims are at a greater risk for post-traumatic stress even years afterward. Similar results were found studying victims after the Indian Ocean tsunami of 2004.
Clayton said as many as 40 percent of victims can also experience other mental health disorders, such as anxiety and depression. Changes in social behavior are also possible, like increased aggression and domestic violence.
“The important thing to stress is that people respond to loss differently, depending on what other stressors they have experienced and their sources of support,” said Clayton.
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However, there can be positive responses through the community as well. Social media lit up during the storms with neighbors helping neighbors; people connected with others online to provide food, shelter or just to lend a helping hand.
“Major storms can also evoke positive responses, as communities consider their collective well-being and join together to help those in need and to rebuild,” said Clayton.
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La antigua estación meteorológica con la que contaban, fue destruida tan pronto se comenzaron a registrar las primeras ráfagas del huracán María en septiembre del pasado año.
After two years of careful planning, the Topsail, NC dream wedding of Kerriann Otano and Dane Suarez was disrupted by Hurricane Florence. However, a community's response made sure the couple still had a day to remember.
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AccuWeather, a global leader in digital media and weather-related big data, donated a new meteorological station to a local chapter of the American Meteorological Society in Puerto Rico, after Hurricane Maria destroyed their old equipment.
A newly formed tropical depression will bring needed rainfall, but also a flood risk to the southwestern United States and southern High Plains during the second half of the week.
About 3.4 million chickens and turkeys and 5,500 hogs have been killed in floodwaters from Florence in North Carolina. Health and environmental concerns have been raised as flooded power plants, industrial sites, and animal-manure lagoons may leak toxic waste into drinking water.
La científica Ada Monzón advirtió a millones de puertorriqueños del 'monstruo' que era el huracán María con educación y apostando a la resiliencia.
Nearly a week after Florence’s initial landfall in the Carolinas, the worst of the flooding is still unfolding as rivers that have hit major flood stage still have not crested.