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The emotional and mental damage from natural disasters and climate change Property Insurance Law Team Blog



A respected insurance claims expert challenged me to comment on the emotional trauma and problems faced by the general public with repeated natural disasters. His remarkable challenge coined a new phrase, "warmageddon:"

With climate change to weirder weather, hurricanes moving north, winds and fuels endangering communities, one would think that bloggers would write about the need for a new awareness and new skills by consumer lawyers to help the public deal with the consequences of warmageddon.

The problems of climate change that cause a greater number of disasters, with greater frequency and severity, are far too long for a blog post. I will focus on a public problem after a disaster in this post ̵

1; emotional recovery. All of us in the insurance claims industry need better behavior by the bedside. It is important for the people we serve and for the general public that we have permission to help.

In large-scale disasters, policyholders and society are traumatized. In, Helping individuals and communities after natural disasters and societal trauma 1 Disaster trauma experts note:

Disasters deserve special attention because they differ from several other important types of trauma. way. First, they are collective in nature – a large number of individuals are affected at the same time. In some ways, this is an asset. Disaster-stricken individuals sometimes receive worldwide attention. Depending on the size and extent of the incident, support and resources that would not be available after an individual trauma are often mobilized. However, the collective character can also be a problem, as social comparison can occur in cases where the affected needs of an affected individual are not seen as significant as the needs of another. Another problem may be that the resources initially available are insufficient for the problems that arise or that these resources do not last long enough.

A second difference between disasters and other traumas is that they affect both infrastructure and mental health. After major events, communication, housing and transport needs can interfere with the ability to get help. Even after the immediate search and rescue efforts are over and society's infrastructure is back in place, individuals may be left homeless or unemployed and may be more focused on immediate needs, such as rebuilding their home or community, than on their own mental health.

I agree, and I've written about this big issue after a disaster before. The Emotional Toll of Hurricanes recalled a story about a person's emotional health problems following a disaster:

Brian Malone is a dear friend and a Bahamian whose immediate family is about to have a horrific hurricane experience Dorian. Brian's parents and relatives live in Hope Town on the Abaco Islands which is part of the Bahamas. Category 4 and 5 hurricanes are terrible freaks of nature, but living through 24 hours of it will undoubtedly affect the psyche of his relatives in harm in the way of Dorian.

Brian told the story of his Bahamian. cousin who survived Hurricane Floyd in Category 5. His cousin apparently suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder and was convinced that large rats would eat everyone. He thought the plague would rise from the ground and kill them all. This irrational belief is not laughable because each person is uniquely affected and carries the disaster with him as we noted in the stories above.

In my book, Pay Up! Preventing a Disaster with Your Own Insurance Company I told the story of the difficulties of seniors who had paid off their mortgages but who were facing remodeling and hope that their insurance company will cope with them:

Come back from this type of loss is not easy. Ann and Ray were still working, even though they were past retirement age. Losing your home and everything else always takes a toll. A home is your castle, and at that age it can be scary if not impossible to start from the beginning.

In the days after the storm, Ray often visited the place where their house had stood. There was nothing left but a concrete slab that marked the place as a tombstone. At their age, for most people, this type of loss is life-changing without adequate insurance coverage. The emotional strain of such an ordeal cannot be overstated.

The Atlantic had an excellent article on the trauma caused by repeated fires in, A Mental Health Crisis Burning Across the American West: Every Fire Season can amplify the trauma from before . This excellent article from an excellent investigative journal noted:

Vogeldar tends to leave a common signature – the black earth and the white ash, the thorny trees and the gloomy chimneys. Americans have come to know these well. But the physical ruin is only part of the aftermath.

According to Patricia Watson, a psychologist at the National Center for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, 10 to 30 percent of survivors of a forest fire develop diagnosable mental conditions, including PTSD and depression. An additional 50 percent may experience severe subclinical effects that diminish over time. Studies have found that substance abuse and domestic violence increase after natural disasters. And while most fire survivors are fully recovered, many require formal treatment.

In more than 50 interviews over the past two years, I have heard from survivors, researchers, clinicians, and government officials about how this long-lasting psychological damage can change lives. Many survivors described feeling fragile and less able to cope with stress for several years after a fire. Some people remembered that they were looking for burned property and broke down when they realized they would never find it. One man said he took his grandson to see the 2018 Mary Poppins movie – about a family on the verge of eviction – and cried through much of its two-hour playing time. It was more than three years after he lost his home.

When an entire neighborhood or city feels these effects simultaneously, the result is what a psychologist and fire survivor call a "community-wide trauma." "It's hard not to do that." to have some PTSD, says Jessyca Lytle, whose home burned down in Valley Fire. "A lot of people just see it as' Well, that's the new normal. I just have to learn how to deal with it. ”

The trauma is perpetuated and amplified by a distinctive feature of California forest fires: They recur, often in rapid succession. A number of the survivors I spoke to described that they felt "haunted" and "disturbed" by subsequent fires. No matter how irrational they knew it was, it felt like the fires were haunting them.

Our policyholders who have been through a large-scale natural disaster are once again suffering from what they read and see in our media from the next disaster. We need to appreciate and empathize with what their emotional trauma is rather than looking at people as dollar signs of how much they can be worth. We need to listen, and they need hope.

If you're one of those people who posts dollar signs on social media about how financially successful you are about to get rid of other people's grief or start writing on social media about "ching ching" when a disaster occurs, stop. You're the problem. If you write that insurance companies are evil and that everyone will underpay if they are not employed by you, YOU ARE THE PROBLEM. This is obviously a problem if you look at many recovery insurance conventions filled with "let's teach you how to make as much money as you can from someone else's financial disaster." If this is your message, you are the problem.

If you are dedicated to professionally helping people, improving yourself and helping the needy with compassion and letting money come from the fruits of your labor rather than trying to make a killing , chances are good that you are the type of professional who reads this blog. Policyholders and the general public should know that there are many dedicated people who are ready to help and want to do so in a compassionate way. we help our clients through the often non-financial aspect of emotional recovery while acting in our professional capacity.

The Thought For The Day is my quote and video from a blog I wrote eleven years ago , Tennessee Floods and the Emotion of Disaster where I said:

Traveling from one disaster to another and talking to those involved and experiencing the impact is difficult. Most people need reassurance that others know, understand and care. Others are understandably frustrated and angry about the whole situation. When talking to experienced disaster watchers, virtually all the stories of just stopping, sitting and holding hands with our brothers and sisters when they sob and then come to the point where they can work. All victims eventually want to know where they stand and what they can do to recover.

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1 Watson, Patricia, Hamblen (Steven, Jessica Gold, Ns. Ed). (2017). To help individuals and communities after natural disasters and societal trauma . APA handbook of trauma psychology: Foundations in knowledge, Vol. 1, (pp. 87-97). Washington, DC, USA: American Psychological Association, xxii, 624 pp.


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