Arlene brings anxiety

Tropical Storm Arlene weakened after making landfall near Pensacola, Fla., Saturday afternoon.

BY SUSAN KIM | PENSACOLA, Fla. | June 12, 2005


By Sunday morning, Arlene had weakened to a tropical depression after making landfall as a tropical storm near Pensacola, Fla., Saturday afternoon with 60 mph winds. Response leaders in Florida reported homes and other structures seem to hold up well.

On Sunday, forecasters said flooding and up to 6 inches of rain was possible in the path of Arlene's remnants through the Mississippi River valley to parts of Indiana and Ohio.

Arlene came ashore in Florida just east of where Ivan hit with 120-mph wind on Sept. 16. More than 10,000 households were without power across the Gulf Coast on Saturday night.

Public shelters in Florida closed by 6 p.m. on Saturday, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

Emergency responders were checking on mobil homes and on travel trailers issued by FEMA to people still recovering from last year’s Hurricane Ivan. Arlene overlapped many areas Ivan hit last hurricane season.

Members of the Florida Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (VOAD) coalition reported that structures held up well, though the Panhandle area was getting significant rainfall.

In Pensacola, disaster officials drove through FEMA travel trailer sites and mobil home sites, which had some standing water but had not flooded to the point where damage would occur. Some blue tarps on roofs still not repaired from Ivan were flapping in the wind, while others looked like they were holding up. Getting tarps back onto damaged roofs was a priority, reported VOAD members.

VOAD members vowed to continue recovery from last year’s hurricanes, even while making any necessary response to Tropical Storm Arlene.

While structures might be sturdier than people thought, the mental health of people overall is very fragile, reported responders. The emotional toll of the storm - even if significant damage is averted - should not be dismissed, responders said. “I don’t live here - and I’ve got anxiety,” said one responder.

VOAD members said they were planning to offer crisis intervention for affected residents.

“There are lots of people who are scared to death,” said Jody Hill, head of Florida Interfaith Networking in Disaster. “We had a workshop in Ocala on Tuesday and I was just dumbfounded by the tears. And those were the caregivers.”

Whatever physical damage the storm causes, Arlene is already what psychologists call a “trigger event” that causes trauma to resurface.


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Atlantic storm morphs into Javier

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More links on Tropical Storms

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