Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Disaster expertise now personal for USF researcher

TAMPA — Years of research on the psychological effects of natural disasters became personal for Chilean native Carlos Zalaquett on Saturday.

Zalaquett, coordinator of the University of South Florida's clinical mental health counseling program, has counseled people after disasters and written extensively about helping survivors.

Early Saturday morning he was awakened by a phone call to his Tampa home. An 8.8-magnitude earthquake had rocked Chile, where his extended family lives. He immediately started calling relatives.

Hundreds died in the quake, which hit early Saturday. Zalaquett said his relatives seem to be okay, but he knows the earthquake will take a much larger toll in the form of mental trauma.

"Disasters can transform your life in very different ways," he said. "After an earthquake, your sense of security, your sense of stability is affected."

Zalaquett, who moved to the United States in 1997, has survived two major quakes in Chile and conducted research on helping survivors of natural disasters.

He said that after Chileans' basic needs of food, water, shelter and medical attention are met, they'll need counseling. Traumatic events can cause anxiety, which, if untreated, could result in post-traumatic stress disorder.

He said people sometimes suffer flashbacks, increased stress, hyper vigilance and nightmares.

Zalaquett hopes his research can help survivors of quakes in both Chile and Haiti. As an executive secretary for the Interamerican Society of Psychology, he said the group already is working to help Chileans.

"We've been e-mailing to discuss how we can provide psychological assistance, in addition to how we can provide any material assistance," he said.

About a year ago, after a major earthquake hit Peru, Zalaquett assembled a PowerPoint presentation with information about aiding survivors of natural disasters.

He sent a copy to the Chilean ambassador in Haiti after January's earthquake, and he is in the process of getting it to Chilean counselors.

"It's a traumatic situation for all of us," he said.

Times staff writer Rick Danielson contributed to this report. Jessica Vander Velde can be reached at jvandervelde@sptimes.com or (813) 226-3433.

Disaster expertise now personal for USF researcher 02/27/10 [Last modified: Sunday, February 28, 2010 8:10am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. AP: Scott to name Jimmy Patronis CFO on Monday

    Blogs

    From the AP's Gary Fineout:

    Florida Gov. Rick Scott is turning to a political ally and former legislator to take over one of the top jobs in state government. 

    Then state Rep. Jimmy Patronis, R-Panama City Beach, left, and Gov. Rick Scott, tour downtown Panama City, Fla. on Tuesday, April 19, 2011. Scott will name Patronis CFO on Monday.
  2. Despite Pride success, Grand Central business owners upset over losing parade

    Events

    The Grand Central District was packed with people Sunday, there to enjoy the St. Pete Pride Festival.

    Patrons eat lunch and cool off inside of the Community Cafe during the St. Pete Pride Street Festival along Central Ave. in St. Petersburg. LUIS SANTANA   |   Times

  3. Rays blow another lead, lose rubber match to Orioles (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — The Orioles rallied past the Rays on Sunday, winning the rubber match of the three-game series 8-5.

    Baltimore Orioles second baseman Jonathan Schoop (6) scores in the eighth in the final game of a three-game series between the Tampa Bay Rays and AL East rival the Baltimore Orioles at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Sunday, June 25, 2017.
  4. Tim Tebow heads back to Sunshine State with promotion to St. Lucie

    Blogs

    Tim Tebow is coming back to the Sunshine State.

    Columbia Fireflies outfielder Tim Tebow looks out from the dugout before the team's game against the Augusta GreenJackets on April 6 in Columbia, S.C. Columbia defeated Augusta 14-7.
  5. 'Sharknado' coming to Tampa Theatre with director Q&A

    Blogs

    A movie about a tornado filled with man-eating sharks has to be better on the big screen, right? You'll have a chance to find out for yourself when the Syfy network's original Sharknado screens at Tampa Theatre.

    The original 'Sharknado,' which premiered in 2013, will screen at Tampa Theatre.