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Oct 01st
Home Columns San Diego Happenings Coping with the Stress of Natural Disasters IN THE WAKE OF THE RAMPAGING FIRES
Coping with the Stress of Natural Disasters IN THE WAKE OF THE RAMPAGING FIRES PDF Print E-mail
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Columns - San Diego Happenings
Tuesday, 23 October 2007 12:02

The News UpFront (TOP STORY) as of Tuesday, 23 October 2007

former president of the Filipino-American Chamber of Commerce has offered her home and office to shelter those ordered evacuated from the raging fires in the southeastern part of San Diego. Officials are continuously upgrading their alerts while the health and human services office has issued guidelines on how to cope with disasters.

Editor's Note: Here is an "Urgent Announcement from the Philippine Consulate General"

Dateline Los Angeles, California, 23 October 2007

In light of the ongoing fire that has struck seven counties in Southem Califomia, the Philippine Consulate General in Los Angeles has opened an emergency line for Filipino nationals who are affected and needs assistance. Filipino nationals affected by the "fire storm" may call 213- 268-9990.

Coping with the Stress of Natural Disasters


SAN DIEGO - County health authorities today (Tuesday, Oct. 23) issued guidelines on how to cope with stress in the face of the raging fires which already displaced thousands of families in San Diego county.

In the meantime, Carmelita "C. L." Larrabaster-Vinson, a former president of the Filipino American Chamber of Commerce, has opened her home and office in Chula Vista to those who have evacuated their homes.

"We are offering to house families at our home and office. We are prepared to share our food," she said in an urgent email to the Philippine Village Voice. She explained that she's been unaffected by the fires.

Vinson said her family has been contacting friends and their friends and advising them of the availability of her home and office as temporary shelter for the displaced. She can be reached at or at phone number 619.948.2459.

As the fires continue to rage, authorities at the health and human services agency released the following guidelines:

Coping with the Stress of Natural Disasters

If your community has been hit by a natural disaster, you’re probably trying to make sense of what happened and deal with the stress of the situation.

These events create a tremendous amount of stress and anxiety for those directly and indirectly affected. In the days and weeks following the disaster, you may begin to have some of these common reactions:

Common Reactions

· Disbelief and shock; · Fear and anxiety about the future; · Disorientation; difficulty making decisions or concentrating; · Apathy and emotional numbing; · Nightmares and reoccurring thoughts about the event; · Irritability and anger; · Sadness and depression; · Feeling powerless; · Changes in eating patterns; loss of appetite or overeating; · Crying for "no apparent reason"; · Headaches, back pains and stomach problems; · Difficulty sleeping or falling asleep; · Increased use of alcohol and drugs

Tips for Coping

It is ‘normal’ to have difficulty managing your feelings after major traumatic events. However, if you don’t deal with the stress, it can be harmful to your mental and physical health. Here are some tips for coping in these difficult times:

· Talk about it. By talking with others about the event, you can relieve stress and realize that others share your feelings.

· Spend time with friends and family. They can help you through this tough time. If your family lives outside the area, stay in touch by phone. If you have any children, encourage them to share their concerns and feelings about the disaster with you.

· Take care of yourself. Get plenty of rest and exercise, and eat properly. If you smoke or drink coffee, try to limit your intake, since nicotine and caffeine can also add to your stress.

· Limit exposure to images of the disaster. Watching or reading news about theevent over and over again will only increase your stress.

· Find time for activities you enjoy. Read a book, go for a walk, catch a movie or do something else you find enjoyable. These healthy activities can help you get your mind off the disaster and keep the stress in check.

· Take one thing at a time. For people under stress, an ordinary workload can sometimes seem unbearable. Pick one urgent task and work on it. Once you accomplish that task, choose the next one. "Checking off" tasks will give you a sense of accomplishment and make things feel less overwhelming.

· Do something positive. Give blood, prepare "care packages" for people who have lost relatives or their homes or jobs, or volunteer in a rebuilding effort. Helping other people can give you a sense of purpose in a situation that feels ‘out of your control.’

· Avoid drugs and excessive drinking. Drugs and alcohol may temporarily seem to remove stress, but in the long run they generally create additional problems that compound the stress you were already feeling.

· Ask for help when you need it. If your feelings do not go away or are so intense that they interfere with your ability to function in daily life, talk with a trusted relative, friend, doctor or spiritual advisor about getting help. Make an appointment with a mental health professional to discuss how well you are coping with the recent events. You could also join a support group. Don’t try to cope alone. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness.

Local Resources: Access and Crisis Line: 800-479-3339; 2-1-1 San Diego: 211 Mental Health America: 619-543-0412; NAMI: 619-543-1434 or 800-523-5933

PHILIPPINE VILLAGE VOICE - Redefining Community News
Issue No. 80 / News Without Fear or Favor /

. . . . . A community service of San Diego's Philippine Village Voice ( or at 619.265.0611) for the information and better understanding of the public. . . . . .

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Last Updated on Thursday, 25 October 2007 07:49

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