Counselors Visit Evacuees ln Stockton

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(Stockton, CA)
Thursday, October 6, 2005

Twenty-five year old Sonya McCuller and her two children were traumatized by the week they had to spend at the Convention Center in New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina. Now living in a Stockton motel, McCuller says her four-year-old has nightmares.

"My baby used to be able to sleep at night. And with the lights off she can't do it no more. The lights have to be on. My baby always scared. Always jumping up out of her sleep. Stockton mental health counselors are contacting the evacuees to offer help.

"People have been pretty willing to talk with the staff."

Becky Gould is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. She says most evacuees welcome the counseling that's offered through an outreach program. She's not surprised to find that children are having nightmares and other psychological problems.

"The fear of abandonment would be a pretty normal response for a kid. Being afraid when they were evacuating that somebody was going to be missing. Or maybe there are people missing in their family."

Experts say once families achieve some degree of normalcy, children will likely adapt to their new home quicker than adults.