Crisis counseling available to Kentucky tornado survivors

Crisis counseling available to Kentucky tornado survivors
Published: Apr. 20, 2022 at 9:17 AM CDT
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KENTUCKY (WFIE) - Kentucky state officials say they are offering free crisis counseling services for those impacted by the Dec. 10 tornadoes.

Counseling will be available to residents of Barren, Caldwell, Christian, Fulton, Graves, Hart, Hickman, Hopkins, Logan, Lyon, Marion, Marshall, Muhlenberg, Ohio, Taylor and Warren counties.

FEMA approved funding for crisis counseling for nine months through January 15, 2023.

Those seeking the free service should contact the commonwealth’s 211 line.

The three-digit telephone number dialed from anywhere in Kentucky connects residents to health and human services agencies that can provide help to individuals and households recovering from the tornadoes.

The Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Families operates the program through four community behavioral health centers:

Counselors meet with adults and children affected by the disaster in non-traditional settings such as shelters, homes and community buildings – not in clinical or office settings.

Officials say they provide emotional support, education, basic crisis counseling and may refer survivors to local resources and disaster relief services in their own area.

All services are anonymous, and no records or case files are kept.

Counselors usually live in the disaster area and are sometimes survivors themselves.

Some counseling is offered individually, helping the survivors understand their reactions and review their options.

However, officials tell 14 News that group sessions may be led by trained crisis counselors who offer skills to help those in the group cope with their situations and reactions.

The Crisis Counseling program is administered through a partnership between FEMA and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration Center for Mental Health Services (SAMHSA).

SAMHSA’s Disaster Distress Helpline, 800-985-5990, provides 24/7, 365-days-a-year crisis counseling and support to people experiencing emotional distress related to natural or human-caused disasters.

Church Street General Baptist Pastor Danny Greene watched his home and church get ripped away in the storms, and now he says every time he looks around him, he’s reminded of that pain.

“It still feels like we should be able to wake up and this was a dream,” said Greene. “All of a sudden you lost everything you felt safe at, comfortable in, you know, so it is... we’re still literally, for lack of a better word, just grieving.”

Greene wants to encourage his community to utilize the services if they are in need.

”There’s absolutely no shame in seeking help,” said Greene.

Greene says his church community has been there for him and he hopes others in need can find a sense of healing through FEMA’s new service.

”I think to have that service available to people that don’t have a church family, or a family at all, to know that there is someone out there that’s offering this service... that you can just walk in that door, and sit down, and just, if nothing else, just sit down and talk about man, let me tell you what I feel today,” said Greene.

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