For Peer Review only for Community Mobilization: A Model for Preparedness for Puerto Rico After Hurricane Maria
Puerto Rico was affected by Hurricane Maria in September 2017, and as of this writing, hundreds of thousands of people are experiencing fear, panic attacks, anxiety, and night terrors as a result of that hurricane. The results of this event is the need in Puerto Rico for an articulation of a disaster plan that includes psychosocial support, and that establishes linkages between the community responders, community health clinics and major hospital. The objective of this article is to propose an outline of a disaster preparedness plan that evolves from community psychosocial needs and uses the community capitals for a tiered intervention. While there is an effort to outline existing strategies to attend to counseling and mental health response, there is no clear articulation of a Disaster Plan that provides for psychosocial support and community mobilization at the initial tear of addressing community psychosocial needs. The data that informs this article were qualitative in nature including interviews to more than 200 persons in the 32 communities directly affected by Hurricane Maria, seventeen focused groups, and personal response by the co-authors during the twelve months after the disaster. Community mobilization, based on the decision-making capacity from the affected community, is responsible for mobilizing the response and recovery activities. The paper made two recommendations: (11) to use the community capitals to plan for preparedness, response and recovery. Two tools suggested are to explore the contributions of community capitals and the benefit of psychosocial first aid as a tool on primary intervention. A community-based psychosocial support structure integrated into the National Disaster Response Plan of Puerto Rico is proposed herein as a planning tool and mechanism to promote hope and well-being amongst the members of the affected communities. The article concludes by proposing a six-step process of engaging the community in disaster planning and proposes that for inclusion of a long-term psychosocial support plan for the community must be part of an instutionalized process including Emergency Management, Department of Health and Mental Health, and Human Services as leads in an island effort to prepare the citizens for a future disaster.
Community Mobilization, Hurricane Maria, Puerto Rico, Preparedness
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