Stress can kill; counseling service for those overwhelmed with the aftermath of Hurricane Laura

Published: Mar. 9, 2021 at 7:45 PM EST
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(Editor’s note: This story was originally published September 17, 2020 at 9:50 PM CDT - Updated September 17 at 9:50 PM on

LAKE CHARLES, La. (Great Health Divide) - Recovering from a hurricane triggers a wide range of emotions from anger and grief to anxiety and feeling overwhelmed. Sometimes it’s just too much to handle.

The Family and Youth Agency is making counseling available to people who need help.

Everyone who went through Hurricane Rita seems to agree Hurricane Laura is worse. Even as recovery progresses damage is everywhere, row after row of blue roofs, structural damage on every block, and unending piles of debris.

Mary Kaye Allemond has no doubt the stress can kill. Her brother, Pat, who lost his home and business in Rita died one day short of three months after Rita.

“My whole family is convinced that that’s what killed him. He just never let up, every day. He never gave himself some grace. He just worked and I know that killed him. It just took a toll on him.”

Julio Galan of Family and Youth Counseling says the overwhelming stress of such a traumatic event can cause serious mental and physical illness.

“Traumatic events can affect our bodies and I think it is important to take care of ourselves, take care of our bodies because traumatic events will debilitate us. The work is going to be here for a long, long time so it is important for us to pace ourselves.”

The agency has counselors available for adults and children who need help coping with their situation and developing strategies to move forward.

“Structure your day as much as possible. First of all take care of your body. Stay hydrated. Take regular breaks. But after that, you may want to consider setting up a schedule. Wake up, get up at the same time. Eat your meals at the same time. Do not think that you can fix everything by tomorrow. It is impossible. Take your time. Take care of your body. Take care of your soul. Take care of your heart.”

Mary Kaye agrees.

“You just feel like you’re in a fog, like you’re just trudging through mud. You feel like you have to get something done. It’s okay. You don’t have to have it tomorrow.”

The temporary number to talk to a counselor is (337)274-5721.

Great Health Divide is an initiative addressing health disparities in the Mississippi Delta and Appalachia funded in part by the Google News Initiative.

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