It has only been a week since the peak of Hurricane Harvey, but for those of us in and around Houston it already seems like much longer. Now that more of the roads are passable and we can begin to take in the full impact, it is surreal. Many have described the scene as a war-zone, and with the constant buzzing of military helicopters overhead, piles of debris and rubble lining numerous streets, and many people still displaced and in shelters, it really does feel that way. Whether you are one of those who watched the dirty water infiltrate your home and infect all of your belongings, or one who watched the news from the safety of your dry home knowing that your friends and family were struggling all around you and feeling totally helpless to stop the deluge, we’ve all been impacted.
The past many days have stirred a wide spectrum of emotions from grief and despair to joyful appreciation to guilt and frustration. I have had the honor of walking into the homes of complete strangers to aid in the tearing out of drywall and boxing up what little, if anything, was untouched by Harvey’s influence. I’ve watched volunteers at the George R Brown Convention Center (shelter) exhaust themselves out of a deep desire to help those impacted in any way they are able. I’ve stared into the tear-filled eyes of a woman who lost everything and was completely speechless when she asked me, “What do I do now?” And I’ve felt the strange sense of guilt when questions like, “Why was my home spared when so many others’ homes were not?” come into my mind.
As a mental health professional, I expected this to be hard on everyone. But now that I’m walking around in this “war-zone” and talking to the people impacted and hearing their stories, the reality of the loss is truly registering, and it is overwhelming. Please know that no matter what degree of impact you’ve endured through this storm, it would benefit you to look through these resources and make sure that you’re still practicing the self-care necessary to ensure that you can persevere throughout this cleanup and rebuilding effort. It is going to take months and even years, so please refer back to these resources throughout the next many months and share them with others around you. Everyone in Harvey’s wake will benefit from practicing these strategies for self-care and resiliency.