MOORE, Okla. – In certain parts of the state, you can still see remnants of last May’s devastation.
Just hearing the words ‘severe storm’ can feel like a punch to the gut to some victims.
It’s an unrelenting anxiety that a local program hopes it can help alleviate through counseling.
Tania Rubio-Rosas, project director for OK Strong Community Outreach Team, said, “We just teach kids that we take a deep breath and blow a bubble.”
It’s just one of the techniques Oklahoma Strong uses to help children manage the post traumatic stress felt after last year’s tornadoes.
“We are seeing what we called triggers, memories, just the change in weather clouds,” Rubio-Rosas said. “It does absolutely trigger. There’s some smells that trigger some trauma.”
Oklahoma Strong is a FEMA-funded program started after the storms ripped through the state.
Organizers say it’s a free counseling service that caters to those affected by the May tornadoes.
She said, “I think what’s most important is that people understand that is a very normal reaction. With mental health, there’s a stigma attached to it and people don’t feel comfortable getting help.”
To relieve severe storm stress, Oklahoma Strong recommends the following:
1. Keep yourself physically healthy.
2. Use practical ways to relax.
3. Pay attention to your body, feelings and spirit.
4. Have a plan to manage tasks.
Many Plaza Tower students have used the program.
Rubio-Rosas said, “We talk about sitting down with your family, making a personal plan because everyone is different.”
She added, “It uses a lot of that stress on, ‘What am I going to do?’ Because really everything else is unpredictable. We can only predict our actions and our plans.”
The free counseling runs through August 2014 and is available for all ages.