Project Recovery shifts focus to hurricane prep

Published 5:00 am Wednesday, July 5, 2006

Now that many months have passed since Hurricane Katrina and theinitial shock has subsided, disaster preparedness for this year hastaken the forefront of Project Recovery’s efforts.

Project Recovery, a program funded by a Federal EmergencyManagement Agency grant and sponsored by the Mississippi Departmentof Mental Health, has been reaching out to address the mental needsof those affected by Hurricane Katrina.

“We are still providing crises counseling, but one reason we arefocusing on hurricane preparedness has been concern for theupcoming hurricane season,” said Wendy Baily, Project Recoverypublic relations manager. “Katrina caused so much stress andanxiety for the new season, and one way to deal with that is toprovide information.”

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Project Recovery’s 371 workers are going door to doordistributing disaster preparedness plans and encouraging the publicto create a disaster plan and an emergency supply kit. ProjectRecovery has served the 49 counties that were declared disasterareas.

In Lincoln County alone, workers have made 6,626 encounters,Baily said.

“An encounter qualifies as a 15-minute or more crisis counselingsession,” she said. “Most sessions are in people’s homes orworkplace and the Disaster Recovery Center.”

Children have not been excluded from the programs provided byProject Recovery. A book titled “Can Do and the Storm: A StoryAbout New Beginnings” is used in library reading programs, schools,churches and day cares to teach children about the difficultiesthat may come with a natural disaster.

“It’s about two little ducks and animals who had to move fromtheir pond because a hurricane came through. It talks about howthey helped each other and talks about some of their fears. It’s agreat story about supporting one another,” said Kaylee Wade,Project Recovery team leader.

Project Recovery has been a part of several local summer schoolprograms. Mullins School, Alexander Jr. High and Lipsey Schoolstudents have learned the importance of being prepared for anatural disaster.

“We can provide information that can calm people’s fears,” Wadesaid.

Another way that Project Recovery is providing support isthrough a 24-hours, seven-day a week help line. Individuals seekingcounsel or information can contact Project Recovery at1-866-856-3227.