Red Cross offers emotional support following tragedies

JONEBSORO, AR (KAIT) - The American Red Cross has moved their emergency shelter for the Aspen Gardens Apartments to the Allen Park Community Center.

The Red Cross is known for offering victims a roof over their heads and supplies following disaster but one facet of the Red Cross goes deeper than that and offers emotional support as well.

"People have just experienced probably the most traumatic thing in their life," Larry Martens with the Red Cross told Region 8 News.

Whether it's a fire, flood, or other natural disaster, human emotion runs strong following tragedy.

Martens said everyone deals with the situation differently.

"And in a situation like this, it's magnified."

He explained just because the disaster is over, doesn't mean a victim's worries are.

"That is followed up with one of the most stressful things they'll go through in trying to restore their lives."

At the same time, Martens said victims continue to deal with the grief of what they've lost.

That's where the mental health facet of the American Red Cross comes into play. Martens is a mental health supervisor. He said their job following tragedy is to validate a victim's feelings then begin to reduce the stresses they're dealing with.

"We try to assure people that this sudden fear they have is normal."

Martens said the intensity of the emotions should taper off within a month to two months but sometimes, he sees resilience in people who've lost so much.

Martens said those who are currently at Allen Park after being displaced from the Aspen Gardens fire show that same resilience and self reliance.

"I can come away feeling that these people are going to make every effort possible to rebuild their lives."

Martens added as much as they help victims, they help Red Cross staff as well. He said they have to make sure the staff is healthy enough to help others when disaster strikes.

Allen Park will remain closed until there is no longer a need for a shelter for those displaced by the Aspen Gardens fire.

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