Response team helping victims emotionally recover from tornadoes

Response team helping victims emotionally recover from tornadoes

VAN ZANDT COUNTY, TX - It's been one week since fatal tornadoes tore through three East Texas counties.

Clean-up and volunteer efforts continued Saturday, but storm victims aren't just getting help with supplies and moving debris. One response team is working to help victims recover emotionally as well.

"Whether it be a disaster like what has happened here with the tornado or a flood or with a crime scene," said Don Gieseke, Chaplain, Crisis Response Ministry.

Volunteers with the Crisis Response Ministry said they arrived in Canton Saturday night and got straight to work.

"Just the manual things that need to be done. Moving supplies helping people get reestablished," Gieseke said.

The faith-based ministry also aims to provide victims and first responders with emotional and spiritual support.

"We don't come into a crisis trying to preach to anybody. What is called critical incident stress debriefings, where we can help people through the trauma to help them better cope with the trauma," Gieseke said.

Gieseke said along with 50 volunteers, they brought a team of 11 comfort dogs.

"To allow them to de-stress by petting on a dog by having the ability to have some down time and being able to help them through their trauma," he said.

Gieseke said even after the debris is removed they help victims through what he calls the most difficult stage of disaster recovery.

"The coping stage. When you've called the insurance company you've called FEMA and now you're waiting and things are not happening," Gieseke said.

Volunteers with the Crisis Response Ministry said they also partner with long-term recovery committees. This allows them to stay in touch with storm victims as they move forward.

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