Press Release: Iowa

Red Cross counselors offer emotional support

CONTACT: Laurel Goforth at Office: (571) 918-5585; Cell: (515) 608-7272

Cedar Falls, Iowa, June 15, 2008 – The recent Iowa tornadoes followed so quickly by widespread floods have disrupted the lives of thousands, left many people without homes and businesses owners devastated. American Red Cross counselors are seeing the effects of stress in increasing numbers.

Red Cross Disaster Mental Health Manager Howard Porter said a dozen or more counselors are in Cedar Rapids, Waverly, Cedar Falls at shelters, service centers, and making home visits. Their aim is to help people work through the grieving process. Much of what he’s seeing now is depression. “As the difficulties connected with the disasters continue, we’re finding people are depressed and angry because it’s gone on so long,” he said. Red Cross has been on the scene since the destruction from the tornado in Parkersburg and New Hartford May 25.

To help alleviate emotional upheaval, counselors talk to clients about their experiences and their concerns for family members. “We might spend time with a mom about how her children might be reacting,” Porter said. “Together, our counselors are seeing about 100 people a day.”

Counselors also help individuals and families get appropriate assistance. They work with local mental health agencies in the affected areas, such as Cedar Valley Mental Health Center and Pathways. “They were scheduled to offer ongoing counseling support in Parkersburg following Red Cross’ immediate response to the disaster.” Porter said. Red Cross counselors then moved on to help with the flood disaster in nearby Cedar Falls, Waterloo and Cedar Rapids.

“Most folks show remarkable resilience but quite often individuals are unable to deal with so many problems at one time,” Porter said. “We help with education about why normally stable people might find it difficult to deal with such tremendous loss, and we work to reassure them and give tips as to how they can recover more quickly.”

All American Red Cross disaster assistance is free, made possible by voluntary donations of time and money from the American people. You can help the victims of the Iowa Tornadoes and Floods and thousands of other disasters across the country each year by making a financial gift to the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund, which enables the Red Cross to provide shelter, food, counseling and other assistance to those in need. Call 1-800-HELP NOW or 1-800-257-7575 (Spanish). Contributions to the Disaster Relief Fund may be sent to your local American Red Cross chapter or to the American Red Cross, P. O. Box 37243, Washington, DC 20013. Internet users can make a secure online contribution by visiting www.redcross.org.

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