BURNING DOWN THE HOUSE –
July 11, 2021 – The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has stated climate change “may weigh heavily on mental health in the general population and those already struggling with mental health disorders.” Other drastic weather patterns like rising temperatures, droughts and natural disasters combined with socio economic stresses could also have a toll on certain people since some communities rely heavily on agriculture, a report published by the CDC says. According to another report by the American Health Public Association, 25-50% of people exposed to extreme weather disasters are at risk of adverse mental health effects. And more than half of adults and 45% of children suffer depression after a natural disaster, the report said. The day the sky turned orange. Last September, a mix of smoke and fog caused the sky in some areas of Northern California to look eerie and orange during the wildfire season. “We were driving along the highway and you couldn’t see the ocean, it just looked like the world ended,” Keene told ABC News.
“I sort of can’t explain how apocalyptic it was. It was like being in some sort of apocalypse movie.” The scene was so impactful she said she had a panic attack in the car, forcing her to stop driving. “I was not breathing,” Keene recalled. According to Clayton, “people experience more mental health impacts” as natural disasters become more intense or more frequent. “I think we can all recognize that if you experience a natural disaster, it’s a very stressful event. It’s frightening. It disrupts your life, it disrupts your community,” Clayton told ABC News. The climate impact has also affected Keene’s 8-year-old son and husband. She says both deal with anxiety and depression. “At one point, my son said, ‘Mommy, I think we’re living through something that’s going to be in history books. I would rather not. I would prefer to live during something that would not be in a history book, ‘” she said.
Tyffani De La Cruz is a Hurricane Katrina survivor. She was 13-years-old when the Category 5 storm slammed the Gulf Coast in August 2005, leaving over 1,800 people dead and an estimated $161 billion in damages, according to the nonprofit World Vision Organization. De La Cruz’s house was located in the hard-hit 9th Ward. Before Katrina made landfall, the family sought shelter in another family’s house in North Louisiana. As a result of the historic flooding in the area, their home suffered major damage, forcing the family to relocate to a nearby city. “I was about maybe 15 or 16, when I realized that Katrina had an impact on my well being as far as just being in totally new environments,” De La Cruz told ABC News. When De La Cruz enrolled in college, she said she started to disengage from extracurricular activities, miss classes and lay in bed all day as part of the instability she was feeling ever since the impact of Katrina. “I felt like I was chasing a feeling that I could not give back. I wanted to feel how I felt before Katrina, but I never got that feeling. I never was anywhere that I felt as comfortable as I was before the storm,” De La Cruz said. After noticing that something was off, she searched online for some of her symptoms, she recalled.