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Updated On: Tuesday, 20 August 2019

How Communities Can Survive Floods, Major Storms, Wildfires 

Content by: Voice of America

WASHINGTON —

The 2019 Atlantic hurricane season is officially underway, yet many people haven’t recovered from some of last year’s storms. Meantime, tornados have torn up swaths of several U.S. states in the past few weeks, and floodwaters have wreaked even more damage.

Across the U.S. and elsewhere, tornados, flooding and fires have destroyed homes, sometimes entire communities. Victim after victim describes the trauma.

Preston Black in Oklahoma says a tornado threw his trailer home several meters into the air. His parents, wife and children were all inside. Then, he saw his wife in the debris.

“To see her like that. ... It was awful,” he said. “The worst thing I could ever see.”

She survived. But they lost everything they had.

Police stand at the ruins of a hotel in El Reno, Okla., May 26, 2019, following a likely tornado touchdown late Saturday night.
Police stand at the ruins of a hotel in El Reno, Okla., May 26, 2019, following a likely tornado touchdown late Saturday night.

Hurricane Michael

Last October, Hurricane Michael destroyed entire towns in Florida. Some people are still living in tents. Janelle Crosby lives in a trailer home full of health hazards.

“Rats. Critters. It’s disgusting. Mold. This they put up to try to contain the mold. It was pink, it’s now black.”

Natural disasters affect everyone differently. In California, Gwen Oesch found that the immediate impact of loss can’t always be anticipated.

“I didn’t realize how much my home means to me,” she said, with a sigh.

Solace in numbers

When a community is hit by a disaster, it can be less traumatic than an individual disaster like an accident, according to Dr. John Lauriello, a psychiatrist at the University of Missouri Health Care.

“I think there’s a shared understanding of the trauma, which I think can be very, very helpful because people feel like it wasn’t just them. It occurred to their community and, therefore, the community is going to work together, and the rebuilding will happen together.”

In Missouri, universities are housing people whose homes were destroyed by massive flooding and a tornado. Darrell Bonner says he’s grateful for a place to stay.

“It’s a blessing living here. A lot of financial burden has been let loose a little bit. There’s hope. There are people out there willing to help,” he said.

WATCH: Natural Disasters Take Psychological Toll on Survivors

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