In the aftermath of the tornados and floods of 2008 in Northeast Iowa, Pathways Behavioral Services became involved in a crisis mental health outreach project which lasted 18 months. One of the biggest lessons learned was not to forget about the kids. Now that Iowa has again experienced flooding, we can learn from our past experiences. Children are impacted disproportionately to disasters but often are the most sidelined. Adults are focused on clean up, insurance and getting back to work. Children are given a place to play, basic needs are taken care of, but little time is usually taken to talk with them about how they feel.
Small children do not understand what is going on. They find the entire series of events scary and disorienting. They are often afraid it may happen again and may panic the next time it rains.
Make sure you take the time to talk to your children. Assure them that they are safe. Keep an eye on them the next time the weather turns stormy. If symptoms such as nightmares, sleeplessness, anxiety or other behaviors unusual to your child occur, seek out a professional. Being proactive can save your child from years of misery.