How Hurricanes Hammer Already Struggling Mental Health Systems

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Officials say the long-term psychological injuries after a hurricane outpace more immediate issues and swamp the health care system long after emergency workers go home and shelters shut down. Meanwhile, health care providers are flocking to Puerto Rico to offer their help, and a study finds that evacuating residents from a nursing home before a storm actually increases the chances of death or injury.

Politico: ‘Katrina Brain’: The Invisible Long-Term Toll Of Megastorms
Brandi Wagner thought she had survived Hurricane Katrina. She hung tough while the storm’s 170-mph winds pummeled her home, and powered through two months of sleeping in a sweltering camper outside the city with her boyfriend’s mother. It was later, after the storm waters had receded and Wagner went back to New Orleans to rebuild her home and her life that she fell apart. “I didn’t think it was the storm at first. I didn’t really know what was happening to me,” Wagner, now 48, recalls. “We could see the waterline on houses, and rooftop signs with ‘please help us,’ and that big X where dead bodies were found. I started sobbing and couldn’t stop. I was crying all the time, just really losing it.” (Vestal, 10/12)

Modern Healthcare: Healthcare Providers Answer The Call To Lead Relief Efforts In Puerto Rico
Many have criticized the federal government for being slow in its response to Puerto Rico compared to its efforts in Texas after Hurricane Harvey or Florida after Hurricane Irma. The immediacy of the need for relief has prompted healthcare providers to take a lead role in providing support. … Along with Florida Hospital, providers based in New York have been among the leaders in the relief effort. New York City has the largest Puerto Rican population in the mainland U.S. (Johnson, 10/10)

Kaiser Health News: Video: Health After A Hurricane
If a hurricane strikes where you live, how does it affect your health and well-being? In this Kaiser Health News video, senior correspondent Julie Appleby and Georges Benjamin, the executive director of the American Public Health Association, discuss the ongoing public and environmental health concerns resulting from Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria — and the latest natural disaster of wildfires in California. (10/11)

Texas Tribune: Texas Creates Task Force To Address Students’ Post-Harvey Trauma
When the clouds darken and rain starts pouring down, many Houston-area elementary school students get nervous and start to sob — a sign of the long-lasting effects of watching the water levels rise during and after Hurricane Harvey. …To address such challenges, the Texas Education Agency on Wednesday announced a task force — in conjunction with the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board and the Texas Health and Human Services Commission — that will connect Harvey-affected schools, universities and their communities with counselors, training, and funding opportunities as they continue to deal with the after-effects of the destructive storm. (Swaby, 10/11)

Miami Herald: Ophelia Becomes 10th Consecutive Hurricane This Year
Ophelia became a hurricane late Wednesday, the tenth in a row and tying a record set more than a century ago. Located in the central Atlantic about 760 miles southwest of the Azores, the hurricane poses no threat to land and would probably be unremarkable if not for its place in the record books. (Staletovich, 10/11)

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