May 2, 2011

State of Alabama
Press Release: Mental Health, Department of

ALABAMA DEPARTMENT OF MENTAL HEALTH INVOLVED IN TORNADO DISASTER RELIEF EFFORTS

The day after horrific tornadoes plowed through the state, ADMH Commissioner Zelia Baugh was on the road accessing damage and coordinating assistance. Having visited every department facility in the affected areas, she stated, “We are devastated by what has happened and want to offer assistance to any community affected by this disaster. On the whole, our facilities survived the storms well, with the bulk of damage occurring at the W.D. Partlow Developmental Center in Tuscaloosa. Miraculously, we saw no personal injuries or fatalities on any of our campuses.” This is not to say that the department was spared from the disaster.

Baugh went on to say, “We are saddened by the loss of life and property suffered by our employees and their families. While survival and rescue was paramount for those directly impacted by the storm, many of our employees sacrificed their personal concerns for the needs of our patients. Many worked tirelessly, not leaving their facilities and doing multiple shifts to fill in the gaps for those who could not make it to work due to the storms effects. Like many who are going to extraordinary lengths to serve in this time of disaster, our employees do not see their efforts as heroic. Knowing the difficulty of their jobs in normal circumstances, their dedication in this time of crisis is truly exceptional.” Commissioner Baugh added, “We will do anything we can to assist our employees who have been so tragically affected.”

ADMH was the FEMA designated crisis counseling state agency for Hurricanes Ivan and Katrina, as well as the recent oil spill disaster. ADMH staff is working in collaboration with other agencies under the governor’s office to secure a FEMA grant to obtain reimbursement for crisis counseling follow-up in affected areas across the state, as well as making land in Tuscaloosa available to FEMA for a staging area and trailers. Additionally, through the collaborative efforts of the University of Alabama Schools of Social Work, Psychology and Medicine, ADMH is providing space for a crisis counseling center at Bryce Hospital.

The department has numerous resources regarding disaster relief, psychological first aid and assistance on its website at www.mh.alabama.gov. Other resources for volunteerism may be found at www.servealabama.gov.

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