By Jenn Jacome, Hello Woodlands, August 12, 2019
Nearly two years after the historic rainfall and flooding of Hurricane Harvey, Texas Children’s Harvey Resiliency and Recovery Program is assessing and treating more children than it did in the six to eight months immediately following the storm.
“Currently, we’re seeing about 250 kids per month in our Trauma and Grief Center overall when you look at new assessments and those coming in for return appointments, and many of these children were impacted by Harvey,” Dr. Julie Kaplow, Shannon and Mark A. Wallace Endowed Chair in Pediatric Behavioral Health at Texas Children’s Hospital, says.
There are many immediate effects of a major disaster that are visible to the public eye and include infrastructure damage, flooding and public health issues, such as water contamination. The long-term psychological impacts of a major event are harder to see. In the short-term, parents and caregivers are most concerned with fulfilling survival-mode needs – restoring shelter, food and water for their families – and may not be as attuned to the mental health needs of children. As time passes though, and if the effects of the traumatic event are not properly addressed, children can develop post-traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD) symptoms.