Watching the water level slowly rise outside her house, seven-year-old Molly wasn’t sure what she was supposed to do. Her Mom and Dad were monitoring the weather channel and checking their phones constantly trying to both assess the current situation and anticipate what might come next. They were playing it cool but they were clearly nervous; they had shared with Molly that if the water level from Hurricane Harvey got much higher, they would have to go upstairs to their neighbor’s apartment to stay safe. They had also said that at any minute the electricity could go out and not to be afraid. But while the lights were still on, the power had already been transferred and was now in Molly’s hand, in the form of a flashlight that she clung to for when it would go dark. Molly took her role seriously and kept going from window to window of their Houston apartment reporting on the water level and asking if it was time to go upstairs. Soon, the water was all around their building and brave Molly asked, “…what happens if we can never get out?”
What happens if we can never get out?
Many of the immediate effects of a major disaster are visible to the public eye – like the water that was rising outside Molly’s home – but the long-term psychological impacts of a major emergency are harder to see. In Molly’s case, things didn’t get a lot worse; the power did go out but the family did not have to relocate upstairs. That said, Molly still cries every time it rains and she insists on sleeping in her parent’s room. The flooding may have gone away, but the impact of the experience for Molly is still there.