FARMERS BRANCH, Texas (10/1/08)--Staff at the Texas Credit Union League (TCUL) received advice from Mississippi Credit Union League CEO Charles Elliott on dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Ike. Mississippi credit unions went through Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Elliott understands that rebuilding and reclaiming one's life is a difficult process. Brick and mortar is easier to repair than emotional damage caused by a catastrophic event (LoneStar Leaguer
Sept. 30). "Hurricane survivors have had their world turned upside down. They’ve lost their homes. The school where they once dropped their children off each morning is no longer there. Their community bears the scars of a natural disaster," noted Elliott. They "must face the reality that things will never get back to normal. Instead, they must adopt a new norm, and that doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a process." He told the Texas league it can expect credit union employees affected by Ike to experience a range of emotions--all of them healthy and important to recovery. They are:
* Hero stage. Adrenalin is high. Victims have a sincere desire to want to help each other and often assist their neighbors in cleaning debris before they clean their own. This stage typically lasts two weeks. * Honeymoon stage. A period of optimism and hope, victims feel a great sense of community and have high expectations. This stage may span three to four weeks. * Anger/hostility. About six weeks after the disaster, victims' focus shifts from the community to their individual situation. They may begin to experience symptoms of post traumatic stress syndrome and may need additional support, such as counseling. This stage can linger for months. * Acceptance/rebuilding. This stage can begin at about one year to 18 months after the disaster and last up to 20 years. It is a time of a "new normalcy," where the changed situation becomes the accepted mode.
Elliott commended the Texas league for its aid in the region's recovery efforts and encouraged continued support from the credit union community.