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Families impacted by Hilary dealing with mental health hurdles

Flood victims from Tropical Storm Hilary are not only dealing with clean-up but also mental health hurdles. The extent of the storm's physical damage to people's homes is significant, but the inner damage for them can be just as bad or worse. 

Curtis Toledo was one of the many whose home was hit with extreme flooding in Cathedral City on Horizon Road.

"It just doesn't turn off. It is go go go. There's no slowing down. There's no turning off," Toledo. "I'm carrying everything as the dad, as the father, as the husband. Everything's, you know, a lot on my shoulders."

Toledo said he's been waking up in the middle of the night thinking there's mud rushing in.

"I'll probably cry when it's all done. You know what I mean? I'm probably saving it for that time. But right now, it's time to, you know, just stay dialed in," said Toledo.

Just down the street, Enrique Perez-Leon recalls the traumatic night of the storm when the flooding trapped his family.

"It was traumatic seeing it happen and hearing my kids say repeatedly that we were going to die," said Perez-Leon. "[I've cried] a lot, and I have not shown it to any of my friends or family. I feel like I need to let it out on my own so no one sees me." 

Riverside County's health department has been offering mental health services for victims at the local assistance center. The department encourages flood victims to care for their mental health by getting enough sleep, doing things they enjoy, and staying active. 

"It's okay to be feeling concerned, depressed, or anxious based upon what has transpired," said Behavioral Health Administrator at Riverside University Health System, Tony Ortego. "To get through it, it's important that they try to recognize it and try to talk to family or friends and or professionals."

Counselors will be available for impacted residents from 9 a.m. til 7 p.m. Friday at the assistance center at the Cathedral City Library

Mental health resources for those impacted:

  • Disaster Distress Helpline
    • It provides free 24/7 disaster crisis counseling
    • Call or text 1-800-985-5990
  • TakeMyHand
    • It is a Peer-to-Peer live chat where Live Peer Operators engage with community members in real-time conversations about emotional wellness and help build resiliency when life is difficult.
    • Peer Chat Hours are Monday through Thursday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Fridays from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • CARES Support Line (Community, Access, Referral, Evaluation, and Support)
    • Provides information and referrals for Medi-Cal and Riverside County Health Plan beneficiaries looking for mental health services
    • Call (800) 499-3008
    • Available 24/7
  • Riverside University Health System – Behavioral Health 
    • The website provides information about mental health and substance use services for children, adults, and older adults.
  • 2-1-1 Community Connect 
    • This information and referral hotline connects Riverside County residents in critical need with those who can help.  
  • NAMI Coachella Valley
    • (442) 268-7000
    • Provides support and referral services to people in need in the cities of Banning, Palm Springs, Palm Desert, Indian Wells, Desert Hot Springs, Indio, Coachella, Salton Sea


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Marian Bouchot

Marian Bouchot is the weekend morning anchor and a reporter for KESQ News Channel 3. Learn more about Marian here.


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