Call Now Button

How to Recover from a Disaster; Fire, Flood, and Earthquake

If you’re reading this, it’s likely because you’ve been through a disaster that results in trauma. 

If you’ve had a house fire, a flood, or experienced an earthquake, then it’s likely you’ve had to endure a lot of unexpected grief, stress, and pain. And then you’ve had to clean up the mess too. It creates a perfect storm of emotions that can be crippling. 

It is perfectly normal to feel a variety of things. As the emergency response ends and adrenalin fades, the recovery can begin. Unfortunately, there’s no ‘endpoint’ to this, and what success looks like it different for everyone. Professional mould removal can make your home or place of business safer and healthier.

Step 1: Shock

You stand there, thinking, what the heck just happened. You’re stunned. It’s unreal, you’re disoriented, you can’t feel anything, or understand what’s going on. There’s often a wave of adrenalin involved in this too; you can feel nauseous, shaky, tingly at your extremities, and be feeling waves of hot and cold. 

This is short lived usually. Adrenalin works to shut down ‘non-essential’ functions of your body in order to get you to safety (like if you were being chased by a sabre-toothed tiger, you need adrenaline to outrun it). Part of those ‘non-essential’ functions is digestion, so this is why you may feel nauseous or experience diarrhoea. Your heart can be pounding, your chest feels tight, and you feel like you just want to run away. You can also feel intense anger.

Get somewhere safe. Be around other supportive people. Once the adrenalin has worn off, which could be in a few minutes to hours, make sure you eat something and stay hydrated. Hot cups of tea are excellent as they are reassuring and grounding as well as offering some form of hydration. 

Step 2: Recovery Begins

What recovery looks like depends hugely on what’s happened to you and your circumstances. For instance, if you were in an earthquake, fire, or flood, and you and your family are physically ok, then it’s recovery of emotions, but also a clean-up process.

The first thing to remember is that everyone is different. Some people like a bunch of tasks so they can ‘do’ something useful. This could be shovelling silt, hosing down the house, throwing out damaged furniture, and finding salvageable items.

Some people simply can’t cope with a physical clean-up process and may find themselves sitting there, holding a broken plate, paralysed by indecision and stress. 

Whatever your coping mechanism is, it’s ok. Don’t feel guilty at yourself, or angry at others for managing in a different way.

When there’s an immediate physical clean-up required with some urgency around sanitation, you may feel overwhelmed. If you cannot emotionally or physically do it yourself, get family and friends to help, or you can pay a professional disaster recovery team. Especially with flooding, it’s vital to get the water out of the house and get the premises as dry as possible, as quickly as possible.

Throughout this process, you can talk to others around you if you find it helpful. Some people may find this more distressing, or start to feel overwhelmed. If your disaster is newsworthy, it can be wise to avoid watching TV and risk re-traumatising yourself.

Step 3: Saving Your Belongings

So much of ‘us’ is caught up in our possessions and objects around us. They can bring back loads of memories, or just provide comfort with their familiarity. So when you’re starting a physical clean-up, it can be stressful and very emotional.

If you find yourself struggling to throw things out, or are struck paralysed by indecision, there is some time up your sleeve. 

  • Things such as soft toys can be salvaged with cycle through the washing machine and drying in the sun. 
  • If you have a bunch of broken crockery or tea sets that have some significance, don’t rush to put them in the bin. You can box them up and store them for later if they are clean. Maybe you’ll want to make something out of the broken pieces, or repair one using gold as the Japanese do in the Kintsugi practice. Whatever you want to do, you can wait, and make this decision in the future.
  • If you have drapes or fabrics that have been damaged, wash and dry them and put them aside from some time in the future. Maybe they could become a patchwork quilt or cushion. 

Protecting the reminders of your life might not be a pressing concern in the drama and stress of the immediacy, but in six months, you might wish you hadn’t thrown that plate away. Or, you might realise that plate wasn’t important and throw it away anyway.

Depending on the type of damage and the extent of it, some things may not be able to be saved. This is another form of loss and grief, and you are allowed to feel this way.

Step 4: Set Yourself Up for Long Term Recovery

There are a few things that you can do that will help you recover emotionally, in the long and short term.

  • Social support helps in a range of ways. Others can help you physically with tasks, and also help solve problems
  • Sharing of trauma definitely helps; talk with others
  • If you have pets, time with them helps (for both of you)
  • Disaster recovery is way more stressful when there are kids around. If you can send them safely off-site for a while, this may help you focus on the task ahead
  • Being positive. This does not mean saying that everything is ‘fine’—it clearly is not. It’s more like you have a plan (even if it’s just for today) and you can do this. 
  • Remember, whatever you are feeling is normal. There’s no one way to cope, or manage in this situation.

Think about the longer-term future, know that you will recover, and is there is hope. You will get through this at tech clean. Hang in there.

More Articles

request a quote