How Natural Disasters Are Driving A Mental Health Crisis

Aug 25, 2020
Illustration by Joanna Eberts.

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.

Photo contributed by Sharon Stewart.

Floods, hurricanes and other natural disasters can devastate a town in just a few hours. But the impact on residents can linger for years in the form of anxiety, depression or other mental health problems. 

When Floods Recede, Troubles Rise

Oct 12, 2016
Photo by Staff Sgt. Jonathan Shaw, 382nd Public Affairs Detachment/via Flickr

There’s little worse than the vast flooding Hurricane Matthew has unleashed in North Carolina. Dirty water has breached homes, storefronts, nursing homes. People have been trapped in cars stalled in rushing water. Death tolls are rising.

But as people of this coastal state know too well, the trouble will not fade when Matthew’s floodwaters recede.