Group offers free counseling

Published 6:49 am Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Local counselors are available to offer free crisis counseling to anyone who needs it following the March 11 flooding.

Two representatives from the Louisiana Spirit office, a federally funded program through FEMA and the Department of Health and Human Services, are talking to homeowners, renters and business owners who may still suffer trauma related to the storm.

In addition, Dr. Walter Watson, a crisis counselor with Louisiana Spirit and Claudia Cleveland, a resource linkage coordinator, can help residents who need assistance getting financial assistance or other help.

“A lot of people have not been able, emotionally or financially, to be able to dig under what’s happened after this disaster,” Watson said. He explained that this inability could lead to stress and other emotional issues.

“We offer crisis counseling and we can connect people to certain resources, to the long term recovery groups who are in the position to help people with drywall material, hammers, food clothing as well as financial assistance,” he said.

Cleveland said that by walking through neighborhoods and knocking on doors, they’re able to better understand some of the personal issues people might be reluctant to share otherwise.

“There’s a lot of unseen damage,” she said. “It’s actually in the home, so we can’t walk down the street and see the damages caused by the storm.”

Watson said he’s working throughout the parish and through the Bogalusa Fire Department, providing counseling to firefighters and other personnel who had to work that day to provide help for others.

“There’s still tremendous need in this area,” he said. “There’s a lot of folks who are trying to do the work themselves without getting help.”

Watson said the program is open to anyone, and everyone qualifies for free counseling up to five sessions.

Watson said the group would remain in Bogalusa through December.

He said if anyone needs any help or any counseling, call 504-858-3653.