CDC funds will enable UNC-CH to help minimize domestic violence in flood areas

Natural disasters like last year's Hurricane Floyd continue to haunt some N.C. flood victims long after the last emergency vehicle has rolled away and exhausted personnel have gone back home.

Increased stresses on disrupted and displaced families, heightened by money problems, sometimes linger for years and take their own serious toll. Domestic spats can escalate into violence at home or at work. For example, calls to U Care, the domestic violence agency for Sampson County and surrounding areas, tripled within six months of the flood, according to its executive director Pam Gonzales.

Now, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has awarded $270,000 to University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill faculty and staff to continue and boost their efforts to help flood victims avoid such problems in Lenoir, Wayne, Duplin and Sampson counties. With future federal support, funding could top $1 million.

Their newest program, "Health Works After the Flood," is a health promotion and research effort to address post-flood stress and potential domestic violence among blue collar working women and their spouses or boyfriends.

"This new project builds on 'Health Works for Women,' which already was underway when the disaster struck," said Salli Benedict, assistant director for community development at the UNC-CH Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention. "That project, funded in 1998, involved setting up demonstration projects to teach women working in factories about fitness, nutrition, reducing stress and stopping smoking."

Then Floyd hammered eastern North Carolina.

"Immediately after the hurricane, we contacted the workplaces and community representatives working with us and asked what we could do to help," said Benedict, project manager. "People at the Tri-County Community Health Clinic in Newton Grove told us they were concerned about mental health issues, stress and domestic violence. When we showed up, they also told us we wer

Contact: David Williamson
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

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