natural disasters

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.

Natural Disasters Are Bad For Mental Health. Tell Us Your Story.

May 6, 2020
Photo by 272447/ Pixabay https://pixabay.com/photos/tornado-destruction-joplin-missouri-1650683/

In partnership with the Center for Public Integrity, Columbia Journalism Investigations and Side Effects Public Media.

Every year, weather-related disasters ravage communities across the United States: floods in the Farm Belt, fires in the West and hurricanes along the South and East coasts.

Scientists say these disasters also lead to skyrocketing rates of depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD. One survey of Hurricane Katrina survivors found that a third had mood disorders, and suicidal thoughts more than doubled. Many studies suggest similar outcomes after wildfires and floods.

Nationwide IV Bag Shortage Hits Midwestern Hospitals

Jan 23, 2018
Master Sgt. Val Gemp / US Air Force

It’s been five months since Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico and wiped out houses, roads and the power grid, as well as factories that make prescription drugs and medical devices.