Hurricane Matthew pummeled North Carolina in early October 2016 followed by Hurricane Florence in September 2018. Both storms caused massive flooding, driving thousands of people from their homes and creating havoc across eastern North Carolina.
Beyond the physical devastation, these storms took an emotional toll on people as well. Gov. Roy Cooper announced $3.5 million to fund the Hope 4 NC program to help address the mental health needs of those affected by Hurricane Matthew. Another $12.2 million in funding was granted to the state from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and the Federal Emergency Management Agency to expand the services after Hurricane Florence and subsequent flooding.
Those seeking counseling can call 1-855-587-3463 (FIND) anytime day or night.
The program, which is funded through March 30, 2020, has provided behavioral health services in the 27 most impacted counties, including Bladen County, to more than 147,000 survivors. Of those, more than 24,000 have been referred for more intensive community-based services.
Susan E. Robinson, Suicide Prevention Coordinator and Crisis Counseling Coordinator for Hope 4 NC with the NC Department of Health and Human Services, says the program takes a non-traditional approach to crisis counseling as its not clinical treatment by licensed practitioners. Hope 4 NC has a cadre’ of 200 well-trained crisis counselors who provide door-to-door, behavioral health crisis counseling outreach across the federally declared areas impacted by Hurricane Florence.
“The program is intended to help Hurricane Florence survivors learn coping skills and strategies to reduce trauma and stress experienced, to stay healthy and resilient, recover well, and be prepared for future events,” Robinson said.
The crisis counselors help those seeking disaster recovery support and related services, provide supportive crisis counseling and coping strategies, complete risk assessments and help individuals get connected to longer term behavioral health supports as needed. They’re also available to help with resource needs for special populations, such as children and those with disabilities, farmers and first responders.
Hope 4 NC crisis counseling outreach and education is coordinated with community programs and partners such as child care organizations, schools, community centers, senior centers, first responders, agricultural communities, among others.
The counties where services are available through the Hope 4 NC program are: Beaufort, Bladen, Brunswick, Carteret, Columbus, Cumberland, Craven, Duplin, Harnett, Hoke, Hyde, Johnston, Jones, Lee, New Hanover, Lenoir, Moore, Onslow, Pamlico, Pender, Pitt, Richmond, Robeson, Sampson, Scotland, Wayne, and Wilson.