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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Storm Damage Isn't Just Physical

Traumatizing events can have a long-lasting impact on a person's life. Unfortunately, many don't quite realize the extent to which they can reach.

A recent study conducted by Princeton University determined that survivors of Hurricane Katrina continue to suffer mental health issues many years later. The survey began in 2003 (two years before the storm) to focus on low-income adults in community colleges. The study shifted to continue following the Katrina survivors. Four years after the storm, about a third of participants still exhibited signs of post-traumatic stress and 30% showed psychological stress.

According to the press release, the study's results cannot be assumed to apply to the population as a whole, but they shed light on natural disasters' effects on a particularly vulnerable group--namely low-income mothers with an average age of 26.

It's so easy to forget about natural disasters a few months or years after they occur...when you don't live there.  But for those whose lives were affected, things can never be the same. Whether a favorite location is gone from the corner where it stood, or a home was destroyed, or a loved one was lost, life will always be a little different.

It's up to those of us who are fortunate enough to have never gone through something so painful to remember the pain and loss of others and extend a helping hand. Even though it may seem like the past, for many, it is still the everlasting present. That is why our work means so much to us here at Volunteer Expeditions. We will never be finished helping others.

The paper on the study appears in the January issue of the journal Social Science and Medicine.

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