Texas P.R.I.D.E. People Recovering In-Spite of Devastating Events Crisis Counseling Program May/June 2009 Welcome Letter The Department of State Health Services is committed to implementing a successful crisis response system that utilizes existing infrastructure while incorporating additional resources from other agencies, community groups, and faith-based organizations. Texas has a long history of responding to Texans in need during times of crisis. The result was the Texas P.R.I.D.E. (People Recovering In-Spite of Devastating Events) Crisis Counseling Program (CCP) which currently serves thousands of Hurricane Ike survivors out of five crisis center locations in Texas. Following the storm, 29 counties in Texas were declared disaster areas and approved for federal disaster aid. The combined geographic area is 24,450 square miles, or the comparable size of West Virginia. The affected area has a total population of 6,457,557 or 27.5% of Texas’ total population. Currently, 121 responders are mobilized to meet their needs. Survivors of Hurricane Ike were clearly affected by the devastation, confusion, and displacement resulting from the disaster. However, research shows the full effect of trauma does not reveal itself until well after a disaster is experienced. Many survivors are likely to experience lasting manifestations of their exposure to trauma and acute stress. It is also true that many people are reluctant to seek help from an established mental health system. This fact alone makes our work even more important today than it was weeks after the disaster. The Texas P.R.I.D.E. CCP provides short term interventions to individuals and groups experiencing psychological reactions to large scale disasters. Interventions involve: assisting disaster survivors in understanding their current situation and reactions, mitigating additional stress, promoting the development of coping strategies, providing emotional support, and encouraging linkages with other individuals and agencies who may help survivors recover to their pre-disaster level of functioning. The Texas P.R.I.D.E. CCP has already proven to be a success, with close to 500,000 encounters. I applaud this achievement, and wish you continued success. Sincerly, Michael D. Maples, LPC, LMFT Assistant Commissioner Mental Health and Substance Abuse Division Editor’s Remarks Texas P.R.I.D.E. Crisis Counseling Program Texas Department of State Health Services Michael D. Maples, LPC, LMFT, Assistant Commissioner Mental Health and Substance Abuse Division Ross Robinson, Director of Program Services Section Matthew Ferrara, Unit Manager of NorthStar and Special Iniatives Unit Chance Freeman, Texas P.R.I.D.E. Program Manager Melva Richardson, Texas P.R.I.D.E. Team Lead Steffany Duke, Media Specialist and Editor Contributing Writers: Tina Rich BJ Adams Stephen Kitt Tammy Jackson Paul Gregg Usha Brandon Tamara Petty Ramona Benton Cathy Brown The Texas P.R.I.D.E. Crisis Counseling Program is directed by the Texas Department of State Health Services. Funded by a grant from Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and overseen by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). The editor reserves the right to edit all materials in this publication. Please send requests for items to be included in this publication and other inquiries to: Texas P.R.I.D.E. 909 W. 45th St. Bldg. 3 MC: 2008 Austin, TX 78751 Attn: Steffany Duke/ Rm. 122B Phone: 512-206-5180 Fax: 512-206-5861 email@example.com What is Crisis Counseling? The Texas P.R.I.D.E. (People Recovering In-Spite of Devastating Events) Crisis Counseling Program provides free short term interventions to individuals and groups experiencing psychological reactions to large scale disasters. Interventions involve: Assisting disaster survivors in understanding their current situation and reactions, Mitigating additional stress, Assisting survivors in reviewing their options, Promoting the use of or development of coping strategies, Providing emotional support, and Encouraging linkages with other individuals and agencies who may help survivors recover to their pre-disaster level of functioning. Funding for the Crisis Counseling program is made available through the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Assistance and Emergency Relief Act (P.L. 93-288 as amended) following Federally Declared Disasters and is divided into two grant applications that include the Immediate Services Program- A 60 Day program from date of federal disaster declaration that allows the State and Local Providers to assess need for the Regular Services Program. Regular Services Program- A 9 Month Program that allows for the formation of dedicated teams to deliver Crisis Counseling Services. Teams are hosted by and services are delivered through the Department of State Health Services (DSHS) contracted Mental Health providers. For a list of contact information for our local providers, please see the back cover of this issue. Rosa’s Story submitted by: Tina Rich, Spindletop Crisis Counselor Rosa Wilson, a retired teacher from Orange, TX, felt like a nomad after Hurricane Ike flooded her home, and ruined everything. She had never in her life had to stay in shelters. Wilson found herself bouncing from place to place with no where to go, or no one to turn to. A friend told Wilson about the crisis counseling program. Two days later, she signed up. Wilson says the program has helped her put her mind at ease. “I have thoroughly enjoyed the program,” Wilson said. “It was a great help to me mentally, physically, and socially.” Tri-County Residents Receive Blue Tarps submitted by: Paul Gregg, Tri-County Outreach Worker Hurricane survivors in the Tri-County area continue to struggle to make roof repairs. Blue tarps have become a normal sighting in many neighborhoods, but most of those tarps are in need of repairs themselves. The crisis counseling team in Tri-County recognized the need for replacement tarps and secured 100 from a donor in Harris County. Staff members immediately started distributing tarps. One recipient was a 70-year-old woman whose roof has had blue tarps on it since Hurricane Rita in 2005. Outreach workers remember speaking to her during the recovery from that hurricane, and thought she would be getting a replacement home. The woman is still living in the same house with tattered tarps that leak. With the help of the Liberty County Long Term Recovery Committee, new tarps were placed on the roof. The woman happily reports that she has not had to worry about anymore water leakage. Lou’s Story submitted by: Tina Rich, Spindletop Crisis Counselor Imagine walking into your home to see inches of mud covering everything you own. For Lou Enard, and many other Hurricane Ike survivors this is a reality. Enard, a retired teacher from Orange, TX, evacuated to Shreveport, LA during the hurricane. When she returned, her home had been flooded by more than four feet of water. Everything Enard owned was ruined. She was feeling depressed and stressed out. After several trips to the FEMA Disaster Recovery Center, an outreach worker with the crisis counseling program offered to help. Enard told crisis counselors that she has always been the one to lend a helping hand; but now that she is the one who needs help, she feels lost. Counselors helped Enard realize that it is alright to be on the receiving end. Enard is currently living in a FEMA trailer, and is thankful for what the crisis counseling program has taught her. “I thought I’d never smile again,” Enard said. “I’ve come a long way.” JoAnne’s Story by: Steffany Duke, Editor San Leon resident JoAnne Forest, 68, decided to stay put during Hurricane Ike, but as the water started crashing in around her, she quickly changed her mind. The water got so deep that Forest barely made it to shelter. “There was no time to take anything with me because the water was coming in both ways,” Forest said. “I only had time to get myself out.” Forest felt lost and alone as the storm was coming in. She said she didn’t know where to go because no hotels were open, and there was no one to call for help. Forest eventually went to her sister’s house in Bacliff, a nearby town, but she still couldn’t escape the water. “The water kept coming in,” Forest said. “I tried to sweep it out, but there was no where to sweep it.” When the storm finally passed, Forest was left with nothing. Her mobile home and most of her belongings were ruined, including her truck. Forest was forced to stay in hotels for months until she got word from FEMA that she’d be getting a replacement trailer. “I was scared to come back at first,” Forest said. “I thought maybe I should just move on, but everybody knows me and takes care of me here.” Before she left the hotel, Forest heard about the crisis counseling program. Counselors were able to help Forest build her self esteem and feel comfortable to return home. The CCP also found out that Forest could not read or write, and that she depended on many people to make sure she paid bills and was taken of. After the storm, certain people who helped Forest could not find her. “We found out that the Bay Area Humane and Community Support System lost contact with JoAnne during the storm, but we were able to connect her back to them and also Meals on Wheels,” Kacy Chaffin, Crisis Counselor, said. Chaffin also helped Forest realize skills she has that are not related to reading or writing, like her ability to provide friendship and support to everyone around her, including neighbors who don’t speak English. “I have some Vietnamese neighbors that I am good friends with,” Forest said. “We bring each other food to communicate because we can’t speak to each other.” Outreach workers say JoAnne’s good spirit is infectious. The team visited her many times while she was staying in hotels, and when she got her new trailer, they held a welcome home party. JoAnne says she owes everything to the CCP staff for giving her the courage to return. “If it wasn’t for Kacy and everyone, I’d still be at the hotel,” Forest said. “Thanks to them, I have my new beginning.” Recovering, Rebuilding, and Reclaiming Life by: Steffany Duke, Editor Gulf Coast Center Texas P.R.I.D.E. Crisis Counseling Program (CCP) team leader, Cathy Brown helps many Hurricane Ike survivors everyday, but what many do not know is that she is a survivor herself. The Saturday after the storm blew through, Brown walked over rooftops to get to her home in San Leon. When she made it past the rubble of her neighbors’ homes, she was shocked to see most of hers still standing. “The entire bottom floor was gone, but the top was still there,” Brown said. “I couldn’t believe that every other house was gone, but ours.” Brown’s home was rebuilt in 1962 after Hurricane Carla hit in 1961. The home’s structure consists of plywood walls, instead of sheet rock. Brown says that fact alone could have been the reason her home did not suffer more damage. Although, Brown’s home wasn’t destroyed, she and her family still face many of the struggles other survivors face. “The house needs thousands of dollars in repairs and the insurance companies have not moved quickly to help,” Brown said. “Most of our belongings were ruined from the rain, and sometimes it’s hard to go on.” For many weeks, Brown could not go back to her home. She was so overwhelmed and traumatized by the reality of what happened, and she couldn’t face it. Instead, Brown focused on making a smooth transition for her kids, and getting involved with the Crisis Counseling Program. “I couldn’t worry about the house,” Brown said. “I had to make a new nest for my kids and get them back into a normal routine.” Brown signed her husband, and their two teenage children up for the Disaster Housing Assistance Program (DHAP), got her kids back to school, and then she went back to work. “It’s always easier to focus on other people’s problems than your own,” Ramon Benton, co-team leader for Gulf Coast Center Texas P.R.I.D.E. CCP, said. “That’s what Cathy and I both did; you just have to make the situation your new normal and deal with it.” Through art therapy and support from family and friends, Brown said she was finally able to start the rebuilding process of her home and her life. “Community support is something the crisis counseling program preaches to all of our hurricane survivors,” Brown said. “It truly does help.” The Brown family has also embraced art as a way to cope with all of the feelings associated with a traumatic event. “You enjoy it because you’re concentrating on something pleasant,” Brown said. “It’s almost like meditation; you’re right in the moment and you don’t think about whatever else is on your mind.” Brown’s daughter, Anda, has won $3,000 and two third place awards for her hurricane sculpture entitled “Adolere, Orare, Adorare”, which mean worship in Latin. The piece is an expression of faith, and reaching wholeness through God. Brown and her CCP staff have also used art to cope. Most of the staff are also survivors, and they’ve made a mosaic to symbolize the broken pieces of their lives coming together to make something new and whole. (see Putting the Pieces Back Together, page 7). Brown’s home is on its way to becoming new and whole as well. During spring break, volunteers from a church in Indiana came to help her rebuild. The crew helped Brown’s family put up the interior walls of their bottom level. They have received their flood insurance money to complete the rest of the work, and the Browns hope to move back this summer. Picking up the Pieces submitted by: Cathy Brown and Ramona Benton, Gulf Coast Team Leaders Galveston area residents find a way to cope with the stress of Hurricane Ike through art therapy. The Gulf Coast crisis counseling team guides adult support groups and students on Bolivar Peninsula on how to use the idea of making a mosaic to put the pieces of their lives back together. Survivors encountered by outreach workers and crisis counselors expressed feeling angry at their situations. Many are still displaced and continue to deal with insurance claims. As a means of coping with these feelings, the team introduced the idea of the mosaic. “Artistic self-expression helps people resolve conflicts and problems, develop interpersonal skills, manage behavior, reduce stress, increase self-esteem and self-awareness and achieve insight,” Cathy Brown, Gulf Coast Center Co-Team Leader, said. Adults at the Clear Creek Community Church in League City created stepping stones during their mosaic art session. They broke tiles with hammers and then glued the pieces back together to create something new and whole, which symbolizes taking one step at a time on the road to recovery. Seventh graders at High Island Middle School on Bolivar Peninsula have also begun to create a mosaic. The group is working on a lighthouse mural. Jaylee’s Story submitted by: BJ Adams, Burke Center Team Leader Jaylee Phillips, 32, relocated to Lufkin from Beaumont with her two young children after Hurricane Ike. She is a paraplegic single mom, who was looking to improve the life of her children. After the storm, Phillips was left with practically nothing. With the help of the Texas P.R.I.D.E. Crisis Counseling Program (CCP), Phillips has been connected to many organizations that may help her rebuild her life. These organizations include: The Mosaic Center, National Head Start Association, Goodwill AmeriCorps Program, and Adult Protective Services. Phillips has also received services for her children. Her 10-year-old son, Micah, was connected with a mentor. He says he enjoys spending time with a father figure who can teach him many new things. Since being connected with his mentor, Micah has improved his grades and behavior, and is no longer absent or tardy to school. The CCP team also helped Phillips enroll her two-year-old daughter, Miriah, in the National Head Start program. She’ll be attending the school later this year. The Rader Family’s Story submitted by: Tammy Jackson, Tri-County Outreach Worker and Stephen Kitt, Tri-County Team Leader The Rader family, a 14-year-old boy, a 9-year-old girl, their mother and their aunt were shocked at how fast the water rose during Hurricane Ike. The car was flooded in the driveway before it could be moved, and the house had to be evacuated rapidly. The family had to wade through chest deep water to reach high ground, some not knowing how to swim. Everything they owned seemed lost due to Hurricane Ike’s flood. Not just furniture and clothes, but family photos and mementos, and even a family pet. They had no where to go, and had to move into a house with 14 of their other displaced family members. The Raders experienced several roadblocks moving toward recovery, so they decided to reach out to the Texas P.R.I.D.E. Crisis Counseling Program (CCP) for help. The Tri-County CCP team was successful in getting the family rental and financial help through Other Needs Assistance (ONA). The family was able to replace all of their lost furniture with money from FEMA and help from charitable organizations, and they were also able to move into a new home. Houston Woman Raises Pennies for Hurricane Relief by: Steffany Duke, Editor In mid-September 2008, Judith Bruni returned to her Houston home to find her life turned upside down. Hurricane Ike came ashore on September 13th, ravishing homes, buildings, and vehicles, flooding streets, and knocking out power. The damage spanned hundreds of miles and totals more than $27,000,000. “I feel lucky that I only had to clean up tree limbs,” Bruni said. “I didn’t have any major damage.” Although Bruni fared well after the storm, she says what she saw other people go through made her want to help. “I felt helpless after watching the news of people being taken off rooftops by helicopter,” Bruni said. “It made me feel numb, and I wanted to make a difference.” Bruni started an awareness campaign called “Pennies to Heaven/Be a Gulf Coast Angel.” The name of the organization was inspired by a Bing Crosby song called, “Pennies from Heaven.” “I remember listening to that song as a kid and wondering, how does it rain pennies from heaven,” Bruni said. “This project allows people to give pennies to heaven, so they can rain down on all the people who still need help.” Bruni invites neighborhoods, businesses, schools, and individuals to gather change from their piggy banks, couch cushions, and pockets and convert it to a check payable to the Greater Houston Community Foundation. One hundred percent of the proceeds will go to the Gulf Coast Ike Relief Fund. “I have a sense that people want to contribute, but haven’t been able to,” Bruni said. “This is a simple way to contribute by working together as a community.” For more information, please visit www.GHCF.org. Oh Hurricane by: Usha Brandon, Harris County Outreach Worker Oh Hurricane Oh Hurricane Why did you come? Tearing down fences and ripping roof tops Hurting our people with malicious acts Oh Hurricane Oh Hurricane I know that’s a fact. Oh Hurricane Oh Hurricane The people are sad They’ve toiled and wept, for their great loss With hands and hearts we shall unite To bring back our city to its original life lost What have we done to deserve such an act? Our people are noble And our deeds are dignified to the mass Oh Hurricane Oh Hurricane Please don’t come back We are stronger than ever And I won’t take that back Ready or Not? Have a Plan for the Next Disaster from the office of Adolfo Valadez, MD, MPH Assistant Commissioner of the Division of Prevention and Preparedness Services, Department of State Health Services When disaster hits, Texans need to be ready. Preparing for a disaster or emergency early can provide peace of mind. There are three essential tasks everyone can do to feel better prepared. Make an emergency plan and share that plan with friends and family members. Pull together essential items. Know where you will get information in an emergency. The Texas Department of State Health Services has developed a campaign called Ready or Not? HAVE a PLAN. The www.TexasPrepares.org (www.TexasPrepara.org in Spanish) website is designed to help you make a plan. Many families are not prepared because they think they can weather any storm, or that a disaster won’t strike them. Some procrastinate, and others think planning is too complicated. By following the steps at www.TexasPrepares.org, Texans will see how easy it is to be ready for a disaster. One of the best things people can do is store all essentials together in an easy-to-carry emergency supply kit. Include items such as: Non-perishable food and a hand-operated can opener Three-day supply of water (1 gallon per person per day) Map of evacuation routes Clothes Flashlights Waterproof zippered bag holding important documents such as drivers’ licenses, photo IDs, social security cards, passports, copies of insurance documents, and a list of medications. Think about specific needs of your family- medications, contact lens solution, diapers or pet supplies for example. Next, know how you will get emergency information. Have a battery-powered radio with fresh batteries. Know the station that you will tune to. To manage all of the duties associated with preparing for a disaster, take it one step at a time. Set a simple goal to do at least one thing this week. Then add a step or two each week. Don’t try to do everything at once, and especially don’t wait until a storm or other disaster is on the horizon to begin preparing. When you make your family emergency plan, think about preparing for different types of emergencies including: Natural disasters such as hurricanes or floods Widespread disease outbreaks such as influenza Man-made disasters such as a chemical spill or radiological accident Terrorist attacks such as a dirty bomb or anthrax release Remember, disasters can happen anywhere, at any time of the year. To start or continue making your plan, visit www.TexasPrepares.org. Contact Texas P.R.I.D.E. People Recovering In-Spite of Devastating Events Crisis Counseling Program NorthSTAR and Special Initiatives Staff at the Department of State Health Services: Chance Freeman, Program Manager (512) 206-5516 Melva Richardson, Team Lead (512) 206-5748 Joy Counce, Program Specialist (512) 206-5866 Victor Hall, Program Coordinator-Harris County (512) 206-4669 Jennifer Reid, Program Coordinator- Gulf Coast Center & Burke Center (512) 206-4840 Allie Sebesta, Program Coordinator- Spindletop & Tri County (512) 206-5864 Steffany Duke, Media Specialist and Editor (512) 206-5180 Daisy Scheske, Data Entry Specialist (512) 206-5098 Jennifer Goodman, Data Analyst (512) 206-5872 Ester Mata, Administrative Assistant (512) 206-4541 Olga Eckert, Program Specialist (512) 206-5181 Burke Center Serving Angelina, San Augustine, Houston, Jasper, Nacogdoches, Newton, Polk, Sabine, San Jacinto, Trinity, and Tyler counties. 4101 S. Medford Drive Lufkin, TX 75901 Phone: (936) 676-1252 Fax: (939) 634-8601 Gulf Coast Center Serving Brazoria and Galveston counties 7602 FM 1765 Texas City, TX 77591 Phone: (409) 908-9913 Fax: (409) 908-9413 Harris County Serving Harris and Ft. Bend counties 7011 Southwest Freeway Houston, TX 77074 Phone: (713) 970-7700 Fax: (713) 970-7730 Tri-County Serving Montgomery, Walker, and Liberty counties P.O. Box 3067 Conroe, TX 77305 Phone: (866) 393-3315 Fax: (936) 756-8490 Spindletop Serving Hardin, Jefferson, Chambers, and Orange counties 2750 S. 8th St. Bldg. E Beaumont, TX 77701 Phone: (409) 839-2284 Fax: (409) 839-2283 Programs We Partner With: Federal Emergency Management Agency, Governor’s Division of Emergency Management, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration Disaster Technical Assistance Center, Center for Mental Health Services, 37 Community Mental Health Centers, Substance Abuse Providers, Salvation Army, American Red Cross, Lutheran Social Services Disaster Relief, Inc., Neighborhood Center, Inc., East Texas Council of Governments, Meals on Wheels, Victims Relief Ministries, The Mosaic Center-Lufkin, TX, Second Mile Mission-Houston, TX This is a publication of the Texas P.R.I.D.E. (People Recovering In-Spite of Devastating Events) Crisis Counseling Program within the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS).