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‘The impact itself was unimaginable’ Aftermath of tropical storm takes toll on mental health

We’re taking a look at the mental health impacts on residents who are still dealing with the aftermath of Tropical Storm Hilary.

“We got to talk about the city, we got to talk about all this other stuff but the impact itself was unimaginable," said Cathedral City resident Rick Ravanello.

A week later, Ravanello is still feeling the impact of Tropical Storm Hilary, after flooding filled his home with several feet of mud.

It all came in so fast that he and his wife were on opposite sides of the house, and couldn’t get to each other.

“I got to that upper level and she was at the backside of there was three foot of mud on that upper level. And I could not get I've been through some stuff in my life. But that one got me," he said.

Ravanello and his wife made it out safely. They’ve been digging out the damage for days, but it’s that very moment when their lives were at risk that continues to play his mind.

“The first couple of days was more of a physical reaction. It's like it wasn't about saving stuff in the house or whatever. It's like who's safe. You know, what's going on there. What can we do to get folks safe and all but the first couple days is physical. I told my wife, day one, I said a couple of days is going to hit you emotionally and it did," he said.

Not only did he lose much of his home, but all of Ravanello’s pets also died in the flooding.

“Animals are the most loving, unconditional love you can ever get. No, you know, I just think about the suffering and all but um, you know, that's it is what it is," he recalled.

A traumatic experience like this can make an impact for weeks or even months.

“In the first two to four weeks following a disaster, or some kind of crisis that we consider acute distress... But anything that goes beyond four weeks may indicate that help from a professional might be warranted. And in that case, someone could call for mental health resource support," said Diana Gutierrez, Administrative Services Manager with Riverside University Health System - Behavioral Health.

Gutierrez with riverside county behavioral health tells us this kind of trauma can make someone feel less motivated, overwhelmed and harder to concentrate.

There are many ways to cope with the pain, but Gutierrez says supporting each other is the best way to start.

“Just in families and neighborhoods and in communities, just being there for one another. And recognizing that they're all going through a tough time is probably the best and most common way to start," she said.

For Ravanello, he says the community has done just that.

“So we'll deal with this one day at a time and with the love of you folks and these folks and all Yeah, we'll get through it," said Ravanello.

If you are in need of more support, the county says you can call their crisis hotline at (951) 686-HELP [4357].

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Samantha Lomibao

Samantha joined KESQ News Channel 3 in May 2021. Learn more about Samantha here here.


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