Episode #23: Disaster response expert and Red Cross volunteer Dr. Diane Bridgeman and wildfire survivors Sarah & Sam Clarkson join host Debra Sloss to discuss the mental health impacts of a disaster and explore how individuals and communities recover. This past August, 6 months into the Coronavirus pandemic, a severe storm system rolled through California’s central coast, packing an unusual combination of dry lightning and high winds that triggered wildfires throughout the region. Consuming more than 86,000 acres and destroying 1,490 structures, the magnitude of the wreckage was unlike anything previously seen in our community. Response, evacuation, and recovery efforts have been complicated by the pre-existing impacts of the pandemic. Sarah & Sam were among the many who lost their homes. While in the midst of sifting through the ashes of their emotions and possessions, they tenderly share what it has been like for them: where they are accessing help, what they are learning, and how they are finding their way forward. Psychologist Diane Bridgeman helps us understand the mental health impacts and how we, as individuals and communities, recover together. She also shares information about how we can better prepare for and build resilience against such community-wide challenges. The online posting for this show includes additional first-person accounts and many useful disaster resources that target mental health, preparedness, and recovery.
Special thanks to Jeanne Baldzikowski for audio production and to Jennifer Young, who assists with research and outreach. And thanks to acoustic guitarist Adrian Legg for composing, performing, and donating the use of our theme music.
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IN YOUR VOICE
To offer your voice for one of our shows, call us at call at (831) 824-4324 and you can comment on a previous show, ask a question for an upcoming show, tell us about a mental health experience you’ve had or something that has contributed to your mental health recovery journey, or share a resource that has helped you. Just leave a 1-3 minute recorded message.
In Your Voice” CZU Stories
In Your Voices with community members affected by the CZU fire in so many different ways, we were inspired to create a space where their experiences, in written or audio form, could be available for others. We believe healing happens in the telling and the listening.
American Red Cross – Central Coast Chapter provides 24-hour emergency assistance to people affected by fires, floods and other disasters. Virtual Family Assistance Center provides emotional support and is available toll-free at 833-492-0094 or with one-click you can get a call back from a volunteer trained in:
* Behavioral Health that can provide emotional support, advocacy, referrals
* Spiritual Care that can provide spiritual and emotional support; connection to faith-based providers
* Health Services that can provide emotional support, assistance with basic medical questions and referral to community resources.
NAMI Santa Cruz (National Alliance on Mental Health) Mental health education, support and advocacy. You are not alone! Coping with Disaster resources and coping strategies. Support groups for those living with mental illness NAMI Peer Connection Groups and for their family members and caregivers NAMI Family Support Groups
Survivors Healing Center: A Welcoming Place for Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse and their Allies (Practitioners, Parents, Community Members) and everyone else who needs more support right now. These are challenging times. If you are looking for a safe place to connect, be supported and offer support, consider our online support groups (3-5 people for 1 hour for 6 weeks). For a place to learn to feel more grounded in these uncertain times check out our Imagine Healing Online Workshops.
Family Service Agency (FSA) of the Central Coast is a dedicated underwriter of State of Mind. FSA provides resources, support, and counseling services to adults and children. FSA believes in the power and potential of people of all ages and backgrounds to discover their own creative solutions and welcomes people of diverse cultures, genders, sexual orientations, ages, faiths, socio-economic backgrounds. FSA Counseling Offices offer Medi-Cal, Medicare, and low-cost, sliding scale services in both downtown Santa Cruz 831-423-9444 x200 and in Soquel 831-346-6767 x200.
California Peer-Run Warm Line (1-855-845-7415) a 24/7 non-emergency resource for anyone in California seeking emotional support. Provides assistance via phone and webchat on a nondiscriminatory basis to anyone in need. Some concerns callers share are challenges with interpersonal relationships, anxiety, panic, depression, finance, and alcohol and drug use.
Santa Cruz County Office of Education Behavioral Health Supports extensive list of local behavioral health resources with short descriptions of each. Also, most schools have counseling available for students.
National Disaster Distress Helpline (Free 24/7) 1- 800-985-5990 or text TalkWithUs to 66746
to connect with a trained crisis counselor who can provide immediate crisis counseling for people who are experiencing emotional distress related to any natural or human-caused disaster. Toll-free, multilingual, and confidential. Available to all residents in U.S. and its territories.
Helping Children Cope after a Disaster articles – supportive to parents dealing with fire aftermath
Recovering from Wildfires American Psychological Association article with tips for managing distress following a wildfire for adults and children
Complete List Articles on Helping Children Cope HERE
Resource Directories – wealth of information in each directory
Wildfire Response Resources created by the state of California. This is a good place to start for information. Many nonprofits listed under “Resources.”
Find the entire list of Resource Directories HERE
American Red Cross – Central Coast Chapter provides 24-hour emergency assistance to people affected by disasters. Four offices serving Santa Cruz, Monterey, and Benito counties.
Family Resource Centers
Community Bridges: Financial assistance and public benefit enrollment
* Mountain Community Resources (Felton) 831-335-6600
* Live Oak Community Resources (Live Oak) 831-476-7284
* Nueva Vista Community Resources (Santa Cruz) 831-423-5747
* La Manzana Community Resources (Watsonville) 831-724-2997
Community Action Board (Davenport Resource Service Center) 831-763-2147
Valley Churches United in Ben Lomond 831-336-8258
FEMA Mobile Registration Intake Center open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday to Saturday (closed Sundays) in a parking lot at 205 Front St. in Santa Cruz, across from Kaiser Permanente Arena. DisasterAssistance.gov or 1-800-621-3362
Find the entire list of Fundamental Needs HERE
Living with Fire in Santa Cruz County a comprehensive Fire Safety guide created by local agencies for Santa Cruz County residents
Emergency Evacuation List – Things to Gather & Things to do Around Your Home downloadable document makes suggestions based on the amount of time you have before evacuating. This can be used as a template to prepare ahead of time and guide you in an emergency.
How Those Displaced by CZU Fire Can Vote – helpful article on navigating this unique situation
Opportunities to Donate Online
Community Foundation of Santa Cruz County Fire Response Fund benefits nonprofit agencies and organizations directly assisting individuals with unmet needs. 100% of donors’ gifts will be used for grantmaking and are tax-deductible.
List of local organizations that have received Community Foundation grants
Portal for organizations to share community needs to address the evolving needs of the community
Community Action Board FIRE Emergency Needs Response Funds for the needs (food, hygiene supplies, clothes, etc.) of low income and underserved communities during this emergency. 100% of the proceeds will be disbursed to support individuals and families in Santa Cruz County.
American Red Cross – Central Coast Chapter– provides 24-hour emergency assistance to people affected by fires, floods and other disasters. Four offices serving Santa Cruz, Monterey, and Benito counties.
Learn Red Cross’ massive Response to Lightening Wildfires
United Way Greater Bay Area Central Coast Wildfire Relief Fund provides immediate and long-term recovery assistance to Bay Area and Central Coast residents affected by the August 2020 wildfires
Other Ways to Help
Effective Sept. 18, the warehouses at 1082 Emeline Ave., Santa Cruz, and 114 Walker St., Watsonville, will no longer accept donations for fire evacuees and not open to evacuees to pick up items. The County will work with community partners to establish alternate donation locations; more information will be posted once available. There are CZU Fire Resource Groups on Facebook with information about community-coordinated drop-off donation sites. Goodwill and Grey Bears are also accepting donations.
Second Harvest Food Bank Accepting non-perishable food donations. No prepared meals or alcohol.
Santa Cruz Volunteer Center/Lightening Fire 2020 Response Find Out How to Give Help or Get Help
The American Red Cross Volunteer Opportunities 90% of our workforce are volunteers. Your time and talent make a difference in people’s lives. It’s as easy as entering your zip code to start looking.