National Alliance on Mental Illness
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Life after Ike
If you live in the Texas counties of Galveston, Brazoria, or one of the other many Gulf Coast cities devastated by Hurricane Ike, you live with and understand the hurricane’s destruction. A great deal has been done, but there is still much to do.
Over two months have passed since the storm hit, and things are slowly getting back to normal. Businesses small and large have reopened, helping to revive tourism. Many of the hotels have reopened, and “now hiring” signs appear all over the island. For that, islanders are grateful, as tourism is the heart of the island’s economic survival.
Still, many do not realize the magnitude of devastation from the storm and how it has affected homes and families. Adding to that stress, the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) recently announced cuts of almost 4,000 jobs, and the loss of 20 psychiatric beds for nine counties. UTMB was one of a handful of hospitals that provided indigent care. This now means fewer options for people without health insurance—people with limited resources to begin with. Because of this, many agencies are working diligently to restore stability on the island by providing relief services to the community.
Recovery takes time, planning, and funds. Donations to the online NAMI Hurricane Relief Fund set up by NAMI National have allowed NAMI Gulf Coast to play many roles in the recovery effort. For that we are very grateful. Those funds have been used to supply an additional 200 sacks from our annual Fil-A-Sac program to Galveston Island hurricane victims. The bags are given to consumers and contain some basic necessities such as pill dispenser packs, calendars, hygiene items, and small novelties. For many of our consumers, this may be the only gift they receive for Christmas, and now in the aftermath of Hurricane Ike, they are needed more than ever.
In addition to Fil-A-Sac items, NAMI Gulf Coast was also able to dedicate staff to the Help4Galveston.org efforts, a FEMA-designated recovery matrix organization helping agencies, businesses, individuals, and volunteers connect their needs during recovery. NAMI Gulf Coast is also involved in a committee comprised of local judges, the MHMR Gulf Coast Center, local hospital representatives, mental health deputies, and mental health prison representatives, with a goal of reestablishing psychiatric beds as a short-term plan while creating a long-term plan.
Funds from the NAMI National Hurricane Relief Fund are also helping with the collection, organization, and publication of mental health resources during and after recovery. This information is imperative. Resources are constantly changing, and families and consumers need continuously updated information to help them cope with posttraumatic stress disorder-related issues and the recovery effort. NAMI GC is dedicated to continuing this effort.
NAMI Gulf Coast is appreciative of NAMI National’s support during this very difficult time.