Hurricane Harvey has turned southeast Texas into basically an inland lake the size of Lake Michigan. But when you look beyond the geography and consider the humanity, that’s over 32,000 displaced souls.
As always, though, a glimmer of humanity emerges from tragedy. The footage of neighbors helping neighbors, acting in good faith, cooperating together and trying to do the best thing for one another – that’s what Texans do. And in doing so, Houstonians have inspired the rest of the country.
As the waters begin to recede in Houston, the true turmoil of the destructive power of the elements is felt. When you’re a plumber, you understand and respect the forcefulness of water. You help steer it where it is needed, and do what you can to keep it from going where it doesn’t belong. Roger’s Plumbing has helped hundreds of homeowners wade through water from broken pipes and leaky faucets. The damage these incidents cause seems so minor compared to what Houston is facing.
As people begin to face the devastation to property left by the floods and put their lives back together, the psychological damage left in the minds of victims of flooding may go overlooked. Studies have shown that victims of flooding are at risk of developing depressive symptoms such as anxiety, irritability and sleeplessness, especially children. Victims are also between two to five times more likely to develop Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome. For families who evacuated, have had previous experience of their homes flooding, or are suffering with other health issues, the risk of emotional distress is significantly higher.
The water damage to homes I have seen in my career as a plumber in Central Texas is sometimes major, and I have seen the emotional distress it causes. Families salvaging treasured possessions and much loved photos will break your heart. I cannot begin to imagine what families in Houston and the Texas coastline will face. Public health agencies need to address the increased risk of psychological distress in victims of flooding within their strategies for disaster preparedness and relief, and be ready to provide needed support to flood victims.
Once the water drains and the skies clear, there will still be much emotional work to do. Let’s do what we can to help them cope. Give. Support. Be there for someone. It’s what being human is all about.
Roger that! Sermon over. Back to work.
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