Delaware Disaster Assistance Team (DDAT) Hosts Program on Mental Health and Disasters

Susan Duhl, private conservator and AIC CERT member, and Faye Rosenbaum, General Manager of the Martha Graham Center for Contemporary Dance, presented a program to DDAT members as part of the Spring 2014 gathering on May 21 at Hagley Library in Wilmington, Delaware.  Susan discussed the theoretical and practical issues relating to stress and mental health that can arise among responding staff members during and following disaster situations, while Faye reflected on her experience and that of the Martha Graham Center’s staff during their response to and recovery from Superstorm Sandy.

Although DDAT programs have addressed a broad range of mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery topics in the past such as creating a disaster plan, working with first responders, triaging impacted collections, and developing wet material recovery skills, this was the group’s first time addressing and considering the topic of mental health needs that often manifest in the wake of a hurricane, tornado, flood, or other disaster.

It was particularly interesting and useful to reflect on the more unique situations that can develop when the collections impacted belong to a performing arts organization such as the Martha Graham Center.  Because the collections themselves serve a different role within the organization than those of a museum, library, or historical society, the response and recovery process differed and created challenges with regard to triage, communication with response and recovery professionals, etc.

This program served as an outstanding starting point to address a vitally important topic and DDAT looks forward to continuing this discussion moving forward as we work together to support one another in strengthening our disaster preparedness skills.  For more information on the program, please contact Pat Young, DDAT Chair, at