Press Releases/Public Notices

ELC Featured on WJHG/News Channel 7 – Helping Children Cope After Hurricane Michael

By Gail Levy/WJHG | Posted to WJHG.COM ON Wed 5:13 PM, Mar 06, 2019 | Updated: Thu 6:43 AM, Mar 07, 2019

BAY COUNTY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) – Mental Health Therapist Sandra Eddington works with children to see the full effect Hurricane Michael left on young minds.

“We’re hearing a lot about nightmares, questions about if the rain is another hurricane coming with the rain or thunder,” said Eddington.

For some young children, it’s harder to express their feelings. So Eddington is working to get children to share their emotions by reading a book called ‘Once I was very, very scared’ and make drawings to go with it.

“A lot of their drawings was wind, trees, rain, doors, their house, they actually also drew their favorite toy, you know, what was gone,” said Eddington.

“That gives them words to explain what has gone on in their life,” said Quality Services Director for the Early Learning Coalition of Northwest Florida, Donna Carnley.

Now, many children are suffering from PTSD-like symptoms.

“There was construction next to a daycare center that we went to and there was this pounding sound. You know, it almost sounded like thunder, and so it is. It is a trigger,” said Eddington.

But for parents, teachers, and adults in the lives of children, it’s important to let them know they’re safe and their fears are normal.

“Saying, ‘Gosh, that was really scary and I remember that too.’ Remember the rain and I remember the hurricane or I remember what I felt that was really scary and just being able to talk about it is helpful,” said Eddington.

“We want them to be able to talk to get it out so it doesn’t stay with them forever,” said Carnley.

If these issues aren’t discussed, Eddington says it can cause children to have OCD, anxiety, or self-removal from situations later on in life.

“We need to be comfortable with talking about, ‘I’m scared.’ But it’s okay to be scared,” said Eddington.