Mental Health Issues After H. Harvey

Mental health was Hurricane Harvey’s greatest toll, first of its kind registry finds

Hurricane Harvey’s greatest lingering toll was on Houstonians’ mental health, according to initial findings from a first-of-its-kind registry that surveyed people about the 2017 storm’s impact on their lives.

Nearly two-thirds of respondents to the registry, modeled on the one created in the aftermath of the 9/11 World Trade Center attacks, reported intrusive or unintended thoughts about the hurricane and its resulting flooding. That was a higher rate than physical symptoms reported by respondents.

Heat is the New Threat

From The Guardian: ‘It can’t get much hotter … can it?’ How heat became a national US problem. Heat now kills more Americans than floods, hurricanes or other natural disasters – but cities are facing it almost entirely alone

Heat already kills more Americans than floods, hurricanes or other ecological disasters. That puts sweltering cities like Phoenix – where flights were cancelled last year because it was simply too hot – under growing pressure. But heat is rapidly becoming a national problem.

Recent research suggests warming conditions are leading to suicides, as rising nighttime temperatures deprive Americans of sleep and respite from scorching days. A new study, released last week, predicts that a warming climate will drive thousands to emergency rooms for heat illness. The very hottest days experienced in the US could be a further 15F warmer this century if greenhouse gas emissions aren’t curbed.

Health Impacts After Disasters

From The Conversation: Scientist at work: Measuring public health impacts after disasters.

In Houston, recovery is under way across the city. Residents and volunteers are gutting and restoring flooded homes. Government agencies and nonprofit organizations are announcing cleanup programs and developing plans to distribute relief funds.

But many questions remain about impacts on public health. What contaminants did floodwaters leave behind? How many people are being exposed to mold – which can grow rapidly in damp, humid conditions – as they repair their homes? Will there be an increase in Zika, West Nile or other vector-borne diseases as mosquito populations recover? Or an uptick in reported cases of other illnesses?