Read on for local resources to help and support disaster survivors.
On the night of the JCMO tornado, I was stowed up in my bathroom in Columbia, talking to my friend in Jefferson City, while the sirens went off in my neighborhood. We were talking about the storm heading north of me, and wondering if it would dip down into Columbia. Jefferson City wasn’t even on our radar, literally.
My dog was nestled in his blanket on the bathroom floor, seeming relieved that I was finally taking his storm warnings seriously. My friend tried to find news on the weather channel for me, so we could figure out exactly why the sirens were going off, while I put her on speaker and scrolled through the weather on my phone. Eventually the sirens stopped, we both thought the worst was over, and we went to bed.
To my surprise the next morning, my Facebook was flooded with “prayers for Jefferson City.” What in the world? I frantically texted my friend, who had slept through it, and fortunately was on the other side of town. Our neighbors further east weren’t so lucky.
As I write this, Jeff faces ongoing threats with more flooding, and more storms predicted.
I grew up in New Bloomfield, just outside Jefferson City, and I worked there every day after school in high school (as an ice cream scooper at Central Dairy, in fact). I remember older kids going to carry sandbags to the river during the flooding in the 1990s. I haven’t been to Jeff since it happened, but I can picture all of the damaged areas, where I’ve visited, worked, and done business throughout my life. I’m sure the pictures don’t do it justice.
I am now a trauma counselor in Columbia, and I recently wrote a piece for Psychology Today about things survivors of a natural disaster should know about emotional reactions after this type of trauma. It highlights areas like understanding that you might be shaken up for a while, you can gradually restore a sense of normalcy, and you should seek help if emotional symptoms seem to be getting worse. You can read more here.
For this local blog that more targets the Mid-Missouri area, I thought it might be most helpful to focus on local resources for those who are struggling, and those who want to help. Here’s a list of resources I’ve come across. To add to the list, please e-mail me and I’ll update the post, or share it on our Facebook page.
1. For immediate supplies and necessities:
Encore Department Store in Jefferson City is raising money and donating/coordinating supply donations. Find them on Facebook for updates.
2. For volunteering:
3. For local businesses/groups organizing and donating help: (with everything from legal advice to tire care), visit the Jeff City Blog relief page.
Also try their interactive map - click on the buttons in each area to see the resource and what they provide.
4. For some local funds to donate to:
5. Fundraising Events for Jefferson City:
Tornado Disaster Relief Concert for Jefferson City at the Blue Note on May 30
Jam for Jefferson City on June 2 - Benefit for Our Neighbors - at The Mission
6. For Mental Health and Emotional support
Department of Mental Health Crisis Line for Cole County (coordinated by Compass Health): 800-833-3915
United Way, for help with finding counselors, groups and any and all resources: Dial 2-11, or visit https://www.uwheartmo.org/
Rape and Abuse Crisis Service Behavioral Group
Suicide Prevention Hotline: Visit http://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/ or call the lifeline: 800-273-8255
Pathways/Compass Health: (573) 556-3300
The Counseling Palette's local blog (my blog), on trauma, anxiety and PTSD: https://www.thecounselingpalette.com/blog
PTSD Quest (also about coping with trauma and PTSD). https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/ptsd-quest
This is just a short list of the many formal resources that were already in place or have been created since the disaster started. I know there are many more local efforts and resources.
It is heartening to see those who are helping -- and that this often includes those that were most impacted themselves. If this includes you, I hope you’ll make use of these resources. For those who weren’t impacted but want to help, maybe I’ll see you at one of the concerts this week. Stay safe.
If you'd like to learn more about Jennie and counseling in Columbia, Mo., visit www.thecounselingpalette.com. You can also take the PTSD test to learn more about symptoms.