National Child Traumatic Stress Network
Being in a hurricane can be very frightening, and the days, weeks, and months following the storm
can be very stressful. Most families recover over time, especially with the support of relatives,
friends, and their community. But different families may have different experiences during and after
a hurricane, and how long it takes them to recover will depend on how frightening the hurricane
and/or evacuation experience was and the extent of damage and loss. Some families will return to
normal routines fairly quickly, while others may struggle with damage to their home and
possessions, medical care, and financial strain. Some families may have lost a loved one or a pet. A
family’s recovery may also be strongly affected by school closings or changes in school schedules.
Children may react differently to the hurricane and its aftermath depending on their age,
developmental level, and prior experiences. Parents should expect that different children may
respond to events in different ways and be supportive and understanding of different reactions.
Children’s reactions to the hurricane and its aftermath are strongly influenced by how their parents,
teachers, and other caregivers cope during and after the storm. They often turn to these adults for
information, comfort, and help. There are many reactions to hurricanes and other frightening events
that are common among children. These generally diminish with time, but knowing that these
reactions are likely – and normal – can help parents be prepared.
As NCTSN also points out, when supporting survivors it is important to consider that some may be having additional difficulties coping due to the anniversary of previous hurricanes, such as Hurricane Katrina in Louisiana.
Here are some resources that may be helpful:
Pause-Reset-Nourish (PRN) to Promote Wellbeing – for responders
Here for Each Other: Helping Families After a Hurricane (from Sesame Street)