Reactions to Disaster


In the midst of a life-threatening emergency adrenaline begins pumping hard and fast. The “fight or flight” instinct of self-preservation kicks into high gear. We have all heard the stories of heroism that take place following a disaster by ordinary people as they performed amazing acts of bravery helping neighbors to safety and rescuing those unable to help themselves. Perhaps you were one of these heroes, or perhaps you witnessed someone acting courageously without thought of personal safety.


As the height of the disaster subsides, confusion sets in. There is much activity associated with locating loved ones, confirming the whereabouts of friends and neighbors and, finally, returning to assess the damage. Finally, there is much uncertainty about what to do next.


In the days and weeks that follow the disaster, there is a fuller realization of the extent of the damage. It often becomes evident that many familiar aspects of everyday life have changed. There is also the recognition that demands for needed resources far exceed supply.

There is sometimes frustration and anger about the paperwork and time-consuming activities that seem to accompany each step of the disaster relief process. Services appear to be very limited and delays may seem endless. Gradually, the reality of the extensive damage caused by the storm begins to sink in.


Each person and each crisis is different. There is a real grieving process that must take place. There have been many kinds of loss. It may seem that nothing will ever be the same. The steps to recovery may seem insurmountable, but each step forward takes you closer to getting your life back on track.