Coping With A Disaster : What You Might Experience

It is not unusual to have physical and emotional reactions to a traumatic event.


  • Rapid heart beat
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Chills or sweating
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Weakness or fatigue
  • Change in appetite
  • Increased sensory perception,
    hyper vigilance
  • Difficulty in sleeping
  • Headaches


  • Fear or panic, confusion or poor
  • Denial, disbelief
  • Withdrawn from family and/or friends
  • Anger, guilt, suspicion
  • Reoccurring thoughts, flashbacks, nightmares
  • Difficulty making decisions
  • Need for information
  • Reluctance to abandon property
  • Rejection of outside help

How do Families Cope with Disasters

  • Recognize the way you react to the event is not unusual.
  • Try not to make big life changes.
  • Talk to family members and friends.
  • Listen to one another; help each other with daily tasks.
  • Try to achieve a balance between rest and activity.

Emotional Problems: After a disaster

Emotional problems following a disaster are a result of problems in daily life and not from personal reactions or poor coping skills.

Problems can include:

  • Dealing with the emotional reaction of family members.
  • Family and marital problems including domestic violence.
  • Uncertainty about insurance coverage or the need to borrow money because of insurance shortfall.
  • Reconstruction strains and delays.
  • The discomfort and lack of privacy of having to live in shelters, damaged homes, motels or with relatives.