Emotional stress of evacuating

Evacuees are steadily coming into the Central Texas area for the most part only with the clothes on their backs. It is an emotional time and a delicate situation for volunteers helping with this transition. An expert on post-traumatic stress provided some insight.

Christina Sanchez and six of her family members left their homes in Cypress, northwest of Houston, several days ago. They do not know what they will find when they return.

"I've been really depressed about that all the tragedies you see on the news. People getting swept away. Just makes you sad thinking about those things,” said Sanchez. “I can't sleep at night. I have nightmares. I've been having nightmares for four days. I have anxiety problems seeing the news. It's real heart-breaking to see it going on."

Sanchez says her in-laws stayed. The roof of their home was badly damaged because of a tornado. Then the rain came, flooding the first floor and trapping them in their neighborhood.

"My husband's family is there with no food or water and we're just worried at this moment, you know,” said Sanchez.

Those family members who made it out are all sharing a hotel room in Austin washing the few clothes they have in the hotel shower.

But at this moment there is a bright spot. The Austin Disaster Relief Network is giving the family clothes and setting them up with other resources.

"Some of the stuff they helped me with today was finding new shirts because I didn't have any. Unfortunately you can tell,” said Sanchez.

To help the Austin Disaster Relief Network click here: https://adrn.org/

Evacuees may not have many material possessions with them when they arrive in Austin, but like Christina, they are carrying an incredible amount of emotion.

"Understand that they're overstimulated, They're stressed, they're afraid they're angry, they're hurt, they're worried about their future,” said Tania Glenn.

Glenn is a clinician and post-traumatic stress disorder expert and has some advice for anyone who may volunteer to help these people.

"Start slow, be gentle, be patient careful, be kind,” said Glenn.

Glenn, who departs for the coast next week, says think basic necessities and offer how you can meet those needs.

"Just approach with how can I help you, what can I bring you,” said Glenn.

For the volunteers and first responders she says you too can suffer emotionally. It's okay to take a break.

"Just pace yourself and understand we're all human and we all need to get some rest,” she said.

For Christina, sleep is hard to come by. She just wants to go home.

"We're just waiting to get back to Houston. Hopefully all this stuff ends soon so we can get the kids back to school and financially stable again,” said Sanchez. "We're just praying for Houstonians. We're going to keep them in our prayers."
 

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