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Seven Months, Six Disasters: Any Fatigue or Stress?

In the past seven  months Americans have dealt with Hurricane Sandy,  The school shootings in Connecticut, a massive explosion at that fertilizer plant in Texas, the Boston Marathon bombings, flooding in the midwest and now tornadoes in  Oklahoma. Are we in danger of information overload?  Too much stress, too little ability to respond?

After disaster upon disaster, appeals are made to raise funds for relief efforts. But after the latest in Oklahoma, is there such a thing as giving fatigue?

"I don't know if I'd call it giving fatigue so much," says Nancy Blaschak,  WNY regional director of  the American Red Cross.

"Certainly after we see a run of disasters we get to the end of it, and people may not make as many gifts as they've had."      
(See Giving, cont'd below)

Sometimes You Just Have to Turn it All Off

Even before Oklahoma was added to the list, a sense of frustration-- if not fatigue -- went global.

"Never before have we been so instantaneously connected to the pain and suffering of those caught in a tragedy. But at what point do we lose our empathy and become nothing more than voyeurs?" asked  Beverly O' Connor in a column in the Sydney (Australia!) Herald last month .

As images of a girl and her father watching the fires in Texas went viral online, O'Connor suggested some "self censoring" might be required, taking a respite from the flood of bad news on social media or other more traditional outlets.

Research points to a link between watching news of traumatic events, such as terrorist attacks, and stress symptoms, according to the VA's National Center for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

" Situations such as these recent events can be particularly painful for those with previous histories of trauma, and can serve as a reminder of past events, so they should be particularly careful and conscientious about taking care of themselves, and seek support from others,"  says Patricia Watson, a Dartmouth Medical School PhD that works with the center.

Relief agencies have acknowledged that  behavioral health should be a part of their work as they work in Oklahoma and elsewhere. 

And even the federal government has acknowledged it, by launching a stress hotline and related website replete with images of Boston and other recent events, just in time for May's observance of Mental Health Month.

Relief efforts are underway.  Here are some organizations that are accepting donations:

American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund:  Click HERE to donate online.  You can also text REDCROSS to 90999 to immediately donate $10 to the Red Cross Disaster Fund.

Phone: 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767); for Spanish speakers, 1-800-257-7575; for TDD, 1-800-220-4095.
Oklahoma Baptist Disaster Relief:  The Oklahoma Baptist Convention says donations will "help those in need providing tree removal services, laundry services and meals to victims of disasters."  Click  HERE  for more or to donate

You can send checks to: BGCO  Attn: Disaster Relief, 3800 N. May Ave., Oklahoma City, OK. 73112
Salvation Army - The Salvation Army is deploying mobile kitchens that can serve to 2,500 people a day.  Click HERE to donate via their website. 

You can also text the word STORM to 80888 to make a $10 donation from your mobile phone.  

You can also donate to the Salvation Army via check

Put the words "Oklahoma Tornado Relief" on the check, and mail to:
The Salvation Army
P.O. Box 12600
Oklahoma City, OK.  73157.
Phone:  1-800-SAL-ARMY (1-800-725-2769).

Feeding America - Feeding America says it will utilize a network of  200 foodbanks to deliver food and supplies.  Click HERE for their website.  

Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma - Text the word FOOD to 32333 to donate $10 to the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma

(Giving, cont'd)

  From disasterdistress.samsha.gov 
The U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration

Disaster Distress Helpline

Stress, anxiety, and other depression-like symptoms are common reactions after any natural or human-caused disaster.

Call 1-800-985-5990. It's Free. It's Confidential.

Are you experiencing signs of distress as a result of a disaster?

Signs of distress may include any of the following physical and emotional reactions:

  • Sleepling too much or too little

  • Stomachaches or headaches

  • Anger, feeling edgy or lashing out at others

  • Overwhelming sadness

  • Worrying a lot of the time; feeling guilty but not sure why

  • Feeling like you have to keep busy

  • Lack of energy or always feeling tired

  • Drinking alcohol, smoking or using tobacco more than usual; using illegal drugs

  • Eating too much or too little

  • Not connecting with others

  • Feeling like you won't ever be happy again

  • Rejecting of help.

You may be suffering more than you need to. We can help!

The Disaster Distress Helpline provides 24/7, year-round crisis counseling and support.

The Helpline is staffed by trained counselors from a network of crisis call centers located across the United States, all of whom provide:

  • Crisis counseling for those who are in emotional distress related to any natural or human-caused disaster

  • Information on how to recognize distress and its effects on individuals and families 

  • Tips for healthy coping

  • Referrals to local crisis call centers or 2-1-1 call centers for additional follow-up care & support.

Download the Disaster Distress
Helpline Brochure here.

Download the Disaster Distress
Helpline Wallet Card here.

Since January , Blaschak has served as a top manager of the Red Cross's  Superstorm Sandy recovery efforts in New York City and Long Island. She spent  several weeks working out of the operational headquarters in Manhattan.

And even though she's seen the organization mobilize to help in each of these disasters, she doesn't think fatigue sets in

Blaschak does understand people budget their money each year for charitable giving and everybody's only got so much money. "They wisely pay attention to that," adds Blaschak.

Tracking down how much we've given locally to the latest effort in Oklahoma is tougher than ever, and that's because of technology, she says.

"We don't get reports from our national organization until weeks after the event ends," says Blaschak.

"There's now electronic giving, especially with texting, that sends the money directly to the national organization and that money gets to people who need it faster."

Blaschak says that technology has been useful in raising money in times of need.

Related Audio
On The WBEN Liveline

Michael Weiner, Exec. Director
United Way of Buffalo and Erie County

Do you donate to disaster relief funds?
( 6% )
( 35% )
( 59% )


Catholic churches and missions will be collecting funds this weekend to help victims of  the tornado in Oklahoma.

Rev. Richard Malone,  the bishop of Buffalo, has requested all Catholic parishes and institutions to hold a voluntary collection for Oklahoma.

The funds will be used to help Catholic Charities respond to  tragic loss of life and property there.

Filed Under :  
Topics : Disaster_Accident
Social :
Locations : BuffaloOklahoma
People : Nancy Blaschak