AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) —This summer we have seen many community disasters take place across the Panhandle. As we previously reported an E-F 3 tornado hit the city of Perryton on June 15 leading to three dead, over 50 injured and many more left with the impact of the tornado.
“It shook me it shook I think, all of Perryton and even surrounding towns, because it’s just something we, we know about, but we don’t really think is actually going to happen,” said Natalie Wagner, a resident of Perryton. “So, when it did, it just, it felt really surreal and shocking, kind of hard to wrap your head around.”
Wagner said, after the tornado, not only was there damage to the city, but the event weighed on the mental health of many in the community.
“Cognitive behavioral therapy, stopping negative thoughts, replacing them with healthier thought patterns and processes. Having healthy resources, people you can trust, whether it be pastors, counselors, family members, trusted friends,” said Wagner. “People you can bounce things off of, and process out loud, just to be heard is huge.”
As we reported previously, during the same month Amarillo along with surrounding areas showed an excessive amount of rain and flooding leading to many businesses and homes being damaged and some in the community being displaced.
“Well, it was it was pretty much the same trauma is trauma, you know. It is it is impacted by the large number of people. And it was so widespread at that time, there was so many kinds of disaster situations going on,” said Tanna Lazaroff, Red Cross North Texas Region Disaster Mental Health Lead. “It kind of started in Hereford then there was the flooding and Amarillo and there were so many people affected that then it affected housing and where people are going to stay.”
Lazaroff said that not only do disasters weigh on the mental health of the communities but also volunteers who help in the communities.
“So, it was a challenge for the clients the people that we serve the people that were, you know, they had fallen in the path of the storms,” said Lazaroff. “But it was also very challenging to the staff, and it was a difficult situation. Then another problem with the staff is that it was very draining. You know, they would go from one disaster to the next with very little time in between no break.”
Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Dr. Sahar Ashraf discussed steps people can take after witnessing these community disasters.
“First, you know, we need to make people more aware of what are the signs and symptoms, what are what behaviors they are calling out for help, they’re actually the please have helped some, but sometimes those are very easily and very commonly unnoticed,” said Dr. Ashraf.
A list of resources for mental health across the Panhandle.
- Texas Panhandle CTRS For Behavioral & Developmental Health
- Northwest Texas Healthcare System Behavioral Health
- BSA Behavioral Health
- Texas Tech University of Health Sciences Psychiatric Department
- Family Support Services of Amarillo