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. Editorial: Making tax increases harder would sentence Florida to mediocrity

    Editorials

    Florida has one of the lowest state tax burdens in the nation, a long list of unmet needs and a Republican-controlled state government that treats any talk of a tax increase as heresy. Yet Gov. Rick Scott wants voters to approve a constitutional amendment to make it even harder for the Legislature to raise taxes. That's …

    Gov. Rick Scott wants voters to approve a constitutional amendment to make it even harder for the Legislature to raise taxes. That’s election-year pandering, not leadership.
  2. What happens if you look at the eclipse without glasses? Want a hole in your vision?

    Science

    It's the burning question of the week.

    The solar eclipse Monday will be quite the Carl Sagan, Neil deGrasse Tyson moment for Americans to share. The idea is to walk away without frying your eyeballs.

    Colton Hammer tries out his new eclipse glasses he just bought from the Clark Planetarium in Salt Lake City on Wednesday in preparation for the eclipse on Monday. [Scott G Winterton | Deseret News via AP]
  3. Waterspout forms between Caladesi and Dunedin

    Environment

    A waterspout formed between Caladesi Island and Dunedin earlier today.

    A waterspout formed between Caladesi Island and Dunedin. [Photo via YouTube]
  4. Contractor sues Tampa over troubled Watrous Canal repair project

    Local Government

    TAMPA — City Hall is being sued by the company it hired for a $3.2 million canal-repair project that ran into problems, plaguing neighborhoods along West Shore Boulevard with road closures and traffic delays even as its cost rose by 45 percent.

    A project to repair and improve the Watrous Canal closed West Shore Boulevard last year and is now the subject of a lawsuit between the contractor, Pac Comm of Miami, and the city of Tampa. CHRIS URSO   |   Times (2016)

  5. Salvation Army, Red Cross, Susan G. Komen abandon Trump's Mar-a-Lago

    National

    The Salvation Army, the American Red Cross and Susan G. Komen on Friday joined a growing exodus of organizations canceling plans to hold fundraising events at the Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, deepening the financial impact to President Donald Trump's private business amid furor over his comments on Charlottesville.

    A Secret Service agent stands at President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach in April. [Doug Mills | New York Times]