General Disaster Response and Recovery Information

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With Hurricane Florence rapidly approaching the North Carolina coast we wanted to make sure your organizations are taking all appropriate safety precautions and making the necessary preparations.

Our first concern is the safety of your staff and the members you are serving. Please make sure you are complying with any mandatory evacuation orders issued by State or local officials. If your organization needs to evacuate your inpatient or residential facility and you are serving Vaya members, please contact the Vaya Call Center at 1-800-849-6127 to make sure we know where these members are being moved.

If you are evacuating one of your sites, please take the necessary precautions to secure and protect any records that could be lost or damaged due to flooding.

Below are some valuable resources from the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and other agencies that may be helpful as you prepare your organization and your members for this natural disaster. Please be safe and let us know how Vaya can be a support to your organization and our health plan members.


Resources below

Tips for Survivors

Tips for Survivors: Coping With Grief After a Disaster or Traumatic Event—In this tip sheet, the SAMHSA Disaster Technical Assistance Center defines and describes grief, discusses ways of coping with grief, explains complicated grief, and offers relevant resources for additional support.

Tips for Survivors of a Disaster or Other Traumatic Event: Managing Stress—This SAMHSA tip sheet gives stress prevention and management tips for dealing with the effects of trauma, mass violence, or terrorism. It lists tips to relieve stress, describes how to know when to seek professional help, and provides accompanying resources. This tip sheet is also available in Spanish here. A similar tip sheet is available in Punjabi here.

Tips for Survivors of a Disaster or Traumatic Event: What To Expect in Your Personal, Family, Work, and Financial Life—In this tip sheet, SAMHSA describes the effects that disasters and other traumatic events can have on survivors in general, and specifically on different parts of their lives. The tip sheet suggests steps to take to foster personal resilience and cope with a disaster or other trauma, lists signs of the need for professional behavioral health assistance, and identifies resources for additional information and support.  This tip sheet is also available in Spanish here

Hurricane-specific Information

Hurricane-specific Information
Natural Disasters and Severe Weather: Floods—This webpage from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides information to help people stay safe after a flood. The webpage includes links to information about safely returning to a home that has been flooded, cleaning up flood water, dealing with mold, and worker safety.

Hurricanes and Tropical Storms—The SAMHSA Disaster Distress Helpline provides information on who is most at risk for emotional distress from hurricanes and tropical storms and where to find disaster-related resources.

Disaster-specific Resources: Hurricanes—This SAMHSA Disaster Behavioral Health Information Series installment is a collection of resources focused on preparedness and response for specific types of disasters, including hurricanes.

How To Cope With Sheltering in Place—This SAMHSA tip sheet explains reactions people often have to sheltering in place; suggests ways to care for yourself and your family, such as making a plan to stay connected; and provides additional helpful resources. This tip sheet is also available in Spanish at here.

Hurricane Safety—The American Red Cross provides tips on how to properly prepare for and respond to hurricanes in order to remain healthy and safe. Guidance is provided for self-care and care for loved ones after a hurricane, returning home, and safe home cleanup and repair

Resources for Faith-based Communities and Spiritual Leaders

Resources for Faith-based Communities and Spiritual Leaders
Faith-based Communities and Spiritual Leaders—This SAMHSA Disaster Behavioral Health Information Series collection contains resources to help communities of faith and spiritual leaders to support survivors of natural and human-caused disasters. It features faith-based organizations involved in disaster response, resources that highlight the role faith leaders can play in helping communities recover after disasters, and information about working with children and other special populations after disasters.

Children and Disaster—This tip sheet from the National Disaster Interfaiths Network (NDIN) discusses common reactions of children and youth to traumatic events, the importance of family in the recovery effort, recommendations to help religious leaders meet the emotional needs of children and youth, and information on how to use support networks.

Faith Communities and Disaster Mental Health—This NDIN tip sheet provides information for religious leaders about common stress reactions people may experience in response to a disaster and suggests ways they can cope, and help others cope, with disaster stress reactions. The sheet also provides information on referring people for mental health services.

Psychological First Aid: Spiritual Leaders and Practitioners—This tip sheet discusses the importance and benefits of Psychological First Aid (PFA) in faith-based communities and how to reach out to those who need help and provide them with comfort and care. PFA is an approach that the general public can use to assist others immediately after a disaster. The tip sheet discusses how to recognize basic needs, support problem-solving, validate survivors’ feelings and thoughts, help survivors connect with support systems, educate survivors about stress responses, and reinforce strengths and positive coping strategies.

Vulnerable Populations & Disaster

Vulnerable Populations & Disaster—This tip sheet discusses the need for religious leaders to accommodate the needs of vulnerable populations during disaster preparedness and response. The sheet identifies the types of vulnerable populations and illustrates preparedness and response best practices to assist individuals within these populations.

Resources for and About Tribal Communities
Tips for Disaster Responders: Cultural Awareness When Working in Indian Country Post Disaster—This tip sheet offers information for disaster response workers to build cultural awareness for supporting Native Americans before, during, and after a traumatic event. It discusses cultural values, types of traumatic events, traditional teachings, and talking circles.

Tips for Disaster Responders: Understanding Historical Trauma When Responding to an Event in Indian Country—This SAMHSA tip sheet helps response workers better understand historical trauma in Native American cultures and how it may affect response efforts, and offers strategies for providing response assistance with cultural sensitivity.

Trauma in Indian Country: A Guide for Professionals—Produced by the Indian Country Child Trauma Center, this pamphlet provides information on manifestations of trauma in Indian Country and how professionals can help.

Resources for Children, Youth, Parents and Other Caregivers, and Schools

Helping Children Cope With Disaster—The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the American Red Cross offer suggestions for parents and other caretakers to consider on things they can do and say to help children recover from a disaster. Tips for family disaster preparedness are also included. This guide is available here in Chinese, Haitian Creole, Korean, Spanish, Tagalog, and Vietnamese.

Helping Families Deal With the Stress of Relocation After a Disaster—In this handout, the CDC provides a wealth of information about stress, why relocation after a disaster may be stressful, the signs of stress that are common in children and adolescents of different age ranges and in older adults, and ways in which parents and other caregivers can support children and adolescents in coping with stress. Tips are also provided for helping older adults in coping with relocation stress, as are links to related resources.

Help Kids Cope—This free mobile app provides information to help parents and other caregivers, teachers, counselors, and others to prepare for and talk about disasters with kids. The app features tips and checklists to help with disaster preparation; information about how children typically respond to disasters; and links to kids’ books, activities, and other resources. Developed by the National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN) and other organizations, the app runs on iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch, as well as Android devices.

Helping School-age Children With Traumatic Grief: Tips for Caregivers—After a disaster or other traumatic event, people may go through traumatic grief, a variety of grief that children and youth experience and express differently in some ways than adults. The NCTSN explains that school-age children may experience traumatic grief and suggests ways for parents and other caregivers to support them in moving through and coping with grief.

Helping Teens With Traumatic Grief: Tips for Caregivers—This one-page tip sheet from the NCTSN explains how teens may experience traumatic grief, a type of grief that people may go through after a death that occurs as part of a disaster or other traumatic event. The tip sheet describes 10 ways that teens may feel, behave, and express themselves as they go through traumatic grief, and, for each reaction, it suggests ways for parents and other caregivers to offer support. It also identifies signs that a teen might benefit from seeing a mental health professional.

Helping Young Children With Traumatic Grief: Tips for Caregivers—In this one-page tip sheet, the NCTSN explains how young children may experience traumatic grief, which can arise after a disaster or other traumatic event in which the child lost a loved one. The tip sheet lists ways in which young children may go through and express traumatic grief and offers suggestions for parents and other caregivers to support children in coping.

Parent Tips for Helping Adolescents After Disasters—This table lists possible reactions, suggested responses, and examples of things parents can do and say to children affected by a disaster. The table is also available in Spanish here.

Parent Tips for Helping Infants and Toddlers After Disasters—This table lists possible reactions, how to understand them, and suggestions that can help parents of infants and toddlers support their young children in coping with their emotions after a disaster.  The table is also available in Spanish here.

Parent Tips for Helping Preschool-age Children After Disasters—This table lists possible reactions, suggested responses, and examples of things parents can do and say to help children in their preschool years who have been affected by a disaster. . The table is also available in Spanish here.

Parent Tips for Helping School-age Children After Disasters—This table lists possible reactions, suggested responses, and examples of things parents can do and say to support their school-age children after a disaster. The table is also available in Spanish here.

Simple Activities for Children and Adolescents: Limited Supplies Needed for Daytime or Lighted Areas—In this handout, the NCTSN suggests activities for children and adolescents that require some supplies—a ball, a deck of cards, etc.—and daylight. They may be useful to families after a hurricane or other disaster that has led them to evacuate or that has left the area where they live without power.

Simple Activities for Children and Adolescents: Limited Supplies Needed for Nighttime or Dark Areas—In this handout, the NCTSN suggests activities for children and adolescents that require some supplies—paper, a flashlight, etc.—and that can be done at night. They may be useful to families after a hurricane or other disaster that has led them to evacuate or that has left the area where they live without power.

Simple Activities for Children and Adolescents: No Supplies Needed—This two-page handout from the NCTSN lists a range of activities for children and adolescents that require no supplies. They are ideal for families that have evacuated due to a hurricane or other disaster, or who have remained at home but are living in an area without power.

Teacher Guidelines for Helping Students After a Hurricane—In this three-page tip sheet, the NCTSN describes the stressors that children and families may be experiencing in the aftermath of a hurricane and lists common reactions in children. The tip sheet also suggests ways for teachers to take care of themselves so that they can support their students during hurricane recovery, as well as for them to support their students directly in coping.

Resources for College Students

Tips for College Students: After a Disaster or Other Trauma—This tip sheet presents tips to help college students cope with the mental health effects of a disaster or other traumatic experience. It describes common reactions, emphasizes the importance of talking about feelings, and offers resources for more information.. This tip sheet is also available in Spanish here.

College Students: Coping After the Hurricane—In this tip sheet, the NCTSN notes that many college students may be experiencing stress after a hurricane, identifies common reactions to hurricanes, and lists ways that college students can care for themselves, increase their resilience, and cope with the recovery period after the hurricane.

Resources Focused on Older Adults

Older Adults—This collection of resources is part of SAMHSA’s Disaster Behavioral Health Information Series. It provides information and links to resources about how disasters may affect older adults differently from people of other ages, ways in which family members and behavioral health professionals and other health care practitioners can help older adults in coping after a disaster, and disaster preparedness for older adults.

What You Need To Know About . . .
Helping the Elderly Recover From the Emotional Aftermath of a Disaster—This one-page fact sheet lists common reactions older adults may have after a disaster and warning signs that they may need extra help, as well as strategies to help older adults with special needs they may have. This fact sheet is also available in Spanish here.

Resources Focused on People With Disabilities
Tips for First Responders, 3rd Edition—The authors of this 28-page booklet offer tips disaster responders and other first responders can use during emergencies and routine encounters to support and communicate with people with disabilities. The booklet is divided into sections that focus on older adults and on people with service animals, mobility impairments, autism, multiple chemical sensitivities, cognitive disabilities, and hearing or visual impairments.

Resources Focused on Substance Use Concerns
Substance Use Disorders and Disasters—This SAMHSA Disaster Behavioral Health Information Series installment provides resources on the prevention and treatment of substance use disorders as part of disaster planning, response, and recovery. The installment includes tip sheets, guides, and other downloadable resources that can be used to help people with substance use disorders cope with and recover from disaster events.

Alcohol, Medication, and Drug Use After Disaster—This handout from the NCTSN provides information that disaster survivors can use to avoid increased use of alcohol and misuse of prescription medications and other drugs after a disaster. It also provides tips for survivors to avoid relapse after a disaster.

Disaster Events and Services for Persons with Co-occurring Substance Abuse and Mental Health Disorders—This tip sheet discusses the needs of people with co-occurring mental and substance use disorders after a disaster. It also covers topics that people who interact and work with these populations need to know. It is designed for families and other concerned nonprofessionals, health care providers, and human services and other community providers.

Resources for Disaster Responders
Psychological First Aid for First Responders: Tips for Emergency and Disaster Response Workers—This SAMHSA tip sheet provides first responders with information on how to address people for the first time after a disaster and how to calmly communicate and promote safety.

PFA Mobile™—Available free of charge and compatible with iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, and Android devices, this app is designed to help responders with providing PFA in disaster-affected communities. The app identifies the eight core PFA actions, helps responders use interventions appropriate for specific survivor reactions, and expedites assessment and referral of survivors.

Tips for Disaster Responders: Preventing and Managing Stress—This SAMHSA tip sheet helps disaster response workers prevent and manage stress. It includes strategies to help responders prepare for their assignment, use stress-reducing precautions during the assignment, and manage stress in the recovery phase of the assignment. This tip sheet is available in Spanish here.

Tips for Disaster Responders: Understanding Compassion Fatigue—This SAMHSA tip sheet defines and describes compassion fatigue, burnout, and secondary traumatic stress. It lists signs of compassion fatigue and offers tips for preventing compassion fatigue and coping with it if it occurs, and notes that responders may also experience positive effects as a result of their work. This tip sheet is also available in Spanish at here.

Additional Resources for Acute Needs
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline—Funded by SAMHSA, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a source of support available 24/7 to people in crisis, including challenging reactions to disasters. Call 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255), or, for support in Spanish, call 1-888-628-9454.

Disaster Distress Helpline—A traumatic event such as this is unexpected and often brings out strong emotions. People can call the Disaster Distress Helpline’s toll-free number (1-800-985-5990) and receive immed iate counseling. This free, confidential, and multilingual crisis support service is also available via SMS (text TalkWithUs to 66746) to anyone experiencing psychological distress as a result of this event. People who call and text are connected to trained and caring professionals from crisis counseling centers in the network. The Helpline staff provides confidential counseling, referrals, and other needed support services.

SAMHSA Disaster App—The SAMHSA Disaster App allows disaster behavioral health responders to navigate resources related to pre-deployment preparation, on-the-ground assistance, and post-deployment resources. Users can also share resources from the app via text message or email and quickly identify local behavioral health services.

About Vaya Health – Vaya Health manages public funds for mental health, substance use disorder and intellectual or developmental disability services in 23 North Carolina counties: Alexander, Alleghany, Ashe, Avery, Buncombe, Caldwell, Cherokee, Clay, Graham, Haywood, Henderson, Jackson, Macon, Madison, McDowell, Mitchell, Polk, Rutherford, Swain, Transylvania, Watauga, Wilkes and Yancey. Access to services and crisis help are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-800-849-6127

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