Tag Archives: Crisis

Responding to Disaster

It seems that everyday a new tragedy or natural disaster is reported in the news.  Here in Canada the past few weeks have been filled, and are still filled, with reports of flooding in various provinces.  On Monday, the news hit a little closer to home.  Slave Lake, AB (population 7000) was completely evacuated following a firestorm that has burned at least half the town, much of it – to the ground.  Evacuees are staying in nearby towns and cities, including the city where I live – Edmonton, AB.  I’ve been thinking about what I could do to assist those affected, whether it resulted from flooding or fire?  Here’s how I am attempting, in my own little way, to respond.  Your thoughts and comments would be appreciated.  Thanks to Voices, Vicky Abad, Kate Williams and Monica Zidar for publishing an column that started me along this line of thinking!

The proposal that I am making to my local Red Cross:  Several hours of MT intervention with evacuees from Slave Lake, at two of the nearby evacuation centres.

Details:  Evacuees are being housed, along with their pets, in several evacuation centers.  Many are still trying to find out if they have anything to return to, as information is still sketchy.  Most left with moments to spare as the fire was sudden and escalated quickly due to high winds.  Luckily, there have been no reports of injury or death as a result of the fire.  Approx. 1/3rd of the town has been burned to the ground with up to half of the town damaged significantly.  Water and electricity have been cut off although efforts are underway to restore utilities to the rest of the town that remains standing.

Some of my intervention ideas include:

1.  Movement and music activity for elementary & preschoolers

This would include up to 30 minutes of music, singing, movement to music, parachute activities, etc.

2.  Drumming activities using variety of larger drums, gathering drums and simple percussion

a)  All age groups – group drumming activity using “heartbeat” rhythm to begin and end the session

b)  Teens/Tweens – emotional release/de-stress (using opposites, start/stop, accompaniment to pop/dance music)

c)  Children/Elementary age children – Provide egg shakers, rhythm sticks that have been donated.  Afterwards, children can take them home with them.

The basis/theory behind the activities is:

1.  Music is universal and generally enjoyable to most individuals – almost anyone, of any age, enjoys music and drumming

2.  Music can be useful as a distraction – these people have little to do but sit and worry about the future.  Distracting them for even a short amount of time can be therapeutic and useful.  Children especially need a creative outlet for their energy and natural anxiety, especially in a strange environment.

3.  Music can help to “normalize” an environmentchildren and adults alike are in a totally foreign environment at the evacuation centers.  Any “normal” type activity can be psychologically helpful and help to ease them through this difficult time.

4.  Music can help individuals move to a different emotional place  – I’m not sure what state many of these folks are in but if the news reports are true – most are in a relative state of shock.  Providing something as simple as an egg shaker or rhythm sticks (that I’m hoping to get donated) can help to ease the painful memories in the minds of the children and help them to have something to hold onto and remember positively about this experience.

So – am I crazy?  Should I be worried about too much emotional reaction/uncontrollable situations due to the large group setting?  Does anyone have any experience in similar situations that they could share?

I would love to hear your thoughts and suggestions!


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Filed under Clinicial Skills, Interventions, Music Therapy