Coping with Stress during Wildfires

The past few days in Monterey County have been incredible. Three fires burning, two caused by lightning storms and one was arson. The River Fire, Carmel Fire and Dolan Fire.  Here in the community, we have grown accustomed to watching, with concern, other counties be affected by the devastation of wildfires year after year. It was our turn this time. Being such a small community that is so connected, we fell into these categories: our home was in the line of fire, we knew someone who was evacuated, we were not in danger or we lost our home. Needless to say, it was a very hard week. 

Wildfires can cause overwhelming stress. You may have been unprepared, uncertain about where you would go if you had to evacuate, not sure how to care for  your loved ones or pets or you may have lost your home.

While the containment numbers climb, which is encouraging news, people still experience emotional stress now and may continue for months after the fires are out. So how can you cope? Give yourself time. Keep things in perspective. While this experience has been horrifying for many, try to focus on things that are good in your life. Take a news break. Find a productive way the help if you can. Donate your time or contribute to an organization aiding in recovery. Eat well and exercise. Ask for help. Support friends and family. Be gentle with yourself. People can experience a wide range of emotions before and after a disaster. There’s no right or wrong way to feel. However, it is important to find healthy ways to cope when these events happen. 

Here are some helpful links: 

Monterey County Food Bank: https://foodbankformontereycounty.org/

Community Foundation for Monterey County https://www.cfmco.org/FireRelief

Community Builders for Monterey County https://www.combuildersmc.org/

Monterey County Community Resilience Program https://montereyco.recovers.org/

Monterey County Office of Emergency Services https://www.co.monterey.ca.us/government/departments-a-h/administrative-office/office-of-emergency-services

SPCA Monterey County https://www.spcamc.org/