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SAMHSA News - July/August 2006, Volume 14, Number 4

Hurricane Recovery Guides Preparedness Planning Part 2 - photo of man lighting lantern in French Quarter

The Importance of Practice

photo of Robert Glover, Ph.D., Executive Director, National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors
Robert Glover, Ph.D.
At every level—local, state, and national—regular drills and tabletop exercises can help prepare staff for the unexpected and avoid mass confusion in the face of a crisis. Furthermore, conducting drills and exercises helps people learn incident command structures and how to get things done in the midst of chaos.

Robert Glover, Ph.D., said, "It's important to take the time to prepare well before the disaster hits." Dr. Glover, Executive Director, National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors, joined in a leadership panel with Dr. Wanser and Lewis Gallant, Ph.D., Executive Director, National Association of State Alcohol and Drug Abuse Directors.

photo of Lewis Gallant, Ph.D., Executive Director, National Association of State Alcohol and Drug Abuse Directors
Lewis Gallant, Ph.D.
Dr. Gallant and others emphasized the importance of documentation during and after a disaster. That documentation should include not only daily situation reports in the emergency response center, but also lists of resources, phone numbers, names, and written records of emergency shelter services (e.g., medicines, counseling) to promote continuity across shifts and throughout staff changeovers. As a historical record, the information also provides valuable guidance for workers responding to future disasters.

photo of Dave Wanser, Ph.D., Deputy Commissioner, Behavioral and Community Health, Texas Department of State Health Services
Dave Wanser, Ph.D.
Presenters strongly encouraged conference participants to familiarize themselves with the Federal National Response Plan (NRP) and the National Incident Management System (NIMS). Acronyms and other terms included in these documents should be part of a disaster team's vocabulary, and the NRP and NIMS should serve as procedural models for setting up emergency response centers. (See Disaster Readiness Resources article for links to the NRP and NIMS.)

And for success at all levels, emergency response centers should train staff and volunteer providers on field interventions such as psychological first aid (see SAMHSA News, Post-Disaster Response article).

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Top Regional Challenges

Regional coordination, planning, partnerships, and response are complex processes and require the ability to navigate interstate agreements, funding strategies, and licensing issues. Specific challenges include obtaining adequate supplies of medications such as treatments for opioid dependency, psychotropic medications, and other pharmaceuticals.

One of the barriers cited was the lack of opportunities for ongoing, face-to-face collaboration among disaster planning teams in neighboring states. To improve basic communications, recommendations included more Web-based communications, such as listservs and bulletin boards.

As Federal, state, and local agencies; advocacy organizations; consumer networks; peer support groups; and others continue to work together, synergy is created.

"One of the things we've learned," said Ms. Power, "is that no one agency is solely responsible for a disaster response. Hurricane Katrina taught us that more than anything. We need to draw on the strength and resilience of the entire community to make this work."

photo of A. Kathryn Power, Director of SAMHSA's Center for Mental Health Services (left), and Dr. H. Westley Clark (right), Director of SAMHSA's Center for Substance Abuse Treatment, conferring before a joint conference presentation
A. Kathryn Power, Director of SAMHSA's Center for Mental Health Services (left), and Dr. H. Westley Clark (right), Director of SAMHSA's Center for Substance Abuse Treatment, confer before a joint conference presentation.

More information on the "Spirit of Recovery" conference, including PowerPoint presentations, is available at www.spiritofrecoverysummit.com. For more information on disaster readiness and response, visit SAMHSA's Web site at www.samhsa.govEnd of Article

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Hurricane Survivors Share Their Stories

Survivors of hurricanes Katrina, Rita, and Wilma shared their stories at SAMHSA's "Spirit of Recovery" conference in New Orleans in May. After the opening plenary, four survivors recounted their experiences during and after the storms. Later in the conference, other survivors, including Eartha Johnson, Ed.D., told their stories.

They were introduced to participants by Ann Herron, M.S.W., SAMHSA Center for Substance Abuse Treatment, and Anne Mathews-Younes, M.Ed., SAMHSA Center for Mental Health Services.

Hubert "Bert" Jackson, Jr., M.A.: "More than 22,000 families are still living in FEMA trailers in this area," said Mr. Jackson. Working for Project Recovery in the towns of Biloxi and Gulfport, MS, he is part of the crisis counseling team that is helping people recover from the devastation of Hurricane Katrina throughout that area.

Maryann Powell: "I had to be that solid rock for everybody," said Ms. Powell. "I couldn't fall apart." A single mother of five, Ms. Powell evacuated from New Orleans to Mississippi to ride out Hurricane Katrina. But her odyssey didn't end there. After a heartbreaking look at what was left of her home back in New Orleans, she and her family traveled to Florida. After Hurricane Wilma hit that state, Ms. Powell began working for Project Hope, Florida's crisis counseling program. "It helps to be helping," she said.

Ro’bin White Morton: "Water was all about us," said Ms. Morton of her experience in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. From the city's 17th Street Canal area, she made her way with her family to the Superdome and then relocated first to Huntsville, TX, and later to Philadelphia, PA. She now works for Project Thrive's community-based program in Philadelphia. "I'm grateful my family was spared," she said.

Michael Patrick: "Be safe, be careful, and make a difference," said Mr. Patrick, sharing some of the wisdom he has learned as an outreach worker for Project Recovery in Mississippi. End of Article

photo of six participants (L to r) Bert Jackson, Jr., SAMHSA’s Anne Herron, Maryann Powell, SAMHSA’s Anne Mathews-Younes, Ro’bin White Morton, and Michael Patrick at Spirit of Recovery conference
(L to r) Bert Jackson, Jr., SAMHSA’s Anne Herron, Maryann Powell, SAMHSA’s Anne Mathews-Younes, Ro’bin White Morton, and Michael Patrick

« See Part 1: Hurricane Recovery Guides Preparedness Planning

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Inside This Issue

Preparedness Planning

Hurricane Recovery Guides Preparedness Planning
Part 1
Part 2

Post-Disaster Response: Learning from Research
Part 1
Part 2

Schools Offer Stability for Children of Disasters

Documentary Features New Orleans High School

Disaster Readiness Resources

Administrator Curie To Leave SAMHSA

From the Administrator: Reflections, Future Directions

SAMHSA Expands Matrix

Methamphetamine Jeopardizes Children's Welfare

Afghanistan, Iraq: SAMHSA Supports Mental Health Efforts

First Lady Reaches Out to Youth

Treatment Protocol Focuses on Detoxification

Curriculum on Restraint Reduction Available

Treatment Directory Updated

Drug Abuse Linked to 1.3 Million ER Visits

Spanish-Language Fotonovela

September Is Recovery Month!

Screening for Mental Illness in Nursing Homes

SAMHSA News Information

SAMHSA News - July/August 2006, Volume 14, Number 4