When Hurricane Harvey struck Texas, it dumped 30 trillion gallons of water on the region, causing devastating flooding that left people homeless, towns destroyed, and lives displaced. For the elderly and disabled, it caused numerous ancillary struggles, including truncated access to proper care. When a person no longer has a home in which they can live, it becomes exceedingly difficult to find optimal support, unless they have the opportunity to spend time with friends or family who weren’t impacted by the disaster.
During the initial weeks and months following the hurricane, relief efforts were mounted and millions of pounds of food, drinking water, home renovation materials and supplies were delivered from around the country. The recovery was front and center in the national news media for a few weeks, but then it began to fade. What is often missed, though, are the long-term effects these disasters have on those residents.
As noted in the Houston Chronicle article, Hurricane Harvey survivors feel grief, distress months later, by Jamie Stengle of the Associated Press:
“In the small coastal town of Port Aransas, which experienced major destruction after Harvey made landfall nearby, psychologist Andrew Reichert said he began noticing a shift about a month ago in what was bringing people in.
“It’s gone from kind of the immediate stress and shock to more just kind of a chronic stress and long-haul type of thing,” Reichert said. “A lot of my work is helping people prioritize and focus on what they can control versus what they can’t.””
Home care agencies in the region were directly affected by this storm, as have numerous others in various regions that have been impacted by different disasters. While home care provides safety and comfort for men and women at home, and while many of these providers step up their efforts to ensure continued support and consistency in the aftermath of such disasters, it’s a good reminder that when months pass and the news cameras and reporters are a distant memory, the challenges remain.
While numerous families are still displaced by Hurricane Harvey, there are likely many aging seniors in the region who still struggle with their daily lives. These events can happen to anyone at almost any place across the country, and when the cleanup and effects of those disasters linger for months or even years, there are likely men and women struggling in silence, often forgotten about. It’s these people caregivers and agencies may need to seek out rather than waiting for them to call first.