Northport Red Cross volunteer heads to California to bring storm victims mental health support
A Red Cross volunteer from Long Island is headed to California to bring help to those affected by recent natural disasters.
Doug McNally, of Northport, says making sure people have the mental health support to navigate trauma and stress is just as important as helping them to clean up and rebuild.
"We call it psychological first aid - it's the equivalent of physical first aid," McNally said. "What we try to do is meet with people, listen to them, the equivalent of putting a band-aid on that wound so it doesn't get infected."
The Northport resident, who is also a social worker, says the combination of the shock of losing a loved one or your home along with the exhaustion that comes from the cleanup is difficult and dangerous for some of the storm victims to manage.
At least 17 people have died from a series of storms that have battered much of California and others have had their homes destroyed.
McNally says the key pillars of support he'll provide are listening to people, talking with them and working to connect them with the services they need.
He says that he and the other Red Cross volunteers could not provide help without the support of other Long Islanders.
"It's very expensive to do what we do," McNally said. "95% of the staff are volunteers but we need Long Islanders' support so we can pay for services."