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MassSupport offers free tornado survivor outreach

Date: 8/8/2011

WESTFIELD — As residents of Hampden and Worcester counties clean up and rebuild in the aftermath of the severe storms and tornadoes of June 1, they may want to take steps to boost their emotional recovery.

“Disasters are stressful and draining for survivors,” Kurt Schwartz, state coordinating officer and director of the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency, said. “But help is available for people who feel overwhelmed, exhausted or unable to cope.”

As a supplement to regular community services, the disaster-related MassSupport Program is now offering free outreach to tornado survivors.

Through a state and federal partnership, Riverside Community Care operates MassSupport by sending specially trained workers into tornado-stricken communities, where they go door-to-door and visit community centers and civic groups.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) provided $98,300 for the effort.

To contact the service, call 781-915-8047 or 2-1-1. Registration for disaster assistance is not required, and all calls are confidential.

“If this disaster caused added stress for you or a loved one, or even if you want someone to talk to, please don’t hesitate to call,” FEMA’s Federal Coordinating Officer Nick Russo said.

Following a disaster, some survivors may experience depression, feelings of guilt, irritability, sleeping difficulties, fatigue, nightmares or excessive worrying.

People of all ages may exhibit any one of these reactions, but children and older adults are of special concern.

Children can be particularly vulnerable to disaster-related stress from interruption of daily routines and the loss of stability that the home environment provides. Reactions can include excessive fear of the dark, crying, fear of being alone and constant worry.

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