Whether it’s hurricanes or COVID-19, disasters are driving a mental health crisis

Hurricane Laura poses biggest storm threat to U.S. oil output in 15 years

The U.S. energy industry on Tuesday was preparing for a major hurricane strike, cutting crude production at a rate approaching the level of 2005’s Hurricane Katrina and halting oil refining at plants along the Texas-Louisiana coast.

Officials in the two states ordered hundreds of thousands of coastal residents to flee inland as Hurricane Laura strengthened and forecasters predicted it would become a major hurricane with sustained, 115 mile per hour (185 kph) winds.

At least a 10-foot (3-meter) storm surge will likely hit the upper Texas coast later this week, said Chris Kerr, a meteorologist at agriculture, energy and weather data provider DTN. He said rapid intensification could even produce a devastating Category 4 hurricane…


Hurricanes, flooding devastate SC. Trauma follows. Is crisis mental health care enough?

An 18-wheeler plunged into a washed-out portion of Highway 145 in Chesterfield County after floodwaters from Hurricane Florence washed the road out in September 2018. Tim Dominick TDOMINICK@THESTATE.COM

In 2016, as Hurricane Matthew slid steadily up Florida’s coast, Stephen Flannery packed his camper, loaded up his dog and drove north.

He was lucky, he said. While the storm battered Hilton Head Island, pitching boats into a haphazard jumble and ripping up trees, Flannery found refuge with friends.

But he couldn’t truly rest. Flannery fretted over the home he’s owned on the island for over two decades. After Matthew passed, he frantically contacted friends, trying to get an update. One texted him a photo.

“Oh my God, it looks like a real estate picture,” he thought. “There wasn’t a stick in the wrong place.” On either side, fallen trees blanketed his neighbors’ houses. Flannery is no stranger to storms, but the experience shook him…


Whether it’s hurricanes or COVID-19, disasters are driving a mental health crisis

Barbara Herndon lay in the center of her bed, muscles tensed, eyes on the television. She was waiting for the storm.

All morning on that day in late May, the news had covered the cold front slouching south from Central Texas. By late afternoon, dense ropes of clouds darkened her Houston neighborhood. Rain whipped the windows. Cyclone-force gusts rent open her backyard breaker box. She cringed at the noises, chest tightening, mind on the havoc that might follow — but ultimately didn’t.

Herndon, who as a child in southern Louisiana saw her share of hurricanes and thunderstorms, had never thought much about them. Now, even a passing squall like the May storm — lasting less than an hour — will panic the 70-year-old retiree. “I get scared,” she said. “I cry a lot, easily. That didn’t use to happen.”…


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