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Doctor: Hurricane Maria has mental impact on some evacuees

Posted at 7:33 PM, Dec 06, 2017
and last updated 2017-12-07 04:35:20-05

More than 200,000 people have evacuated from Puerto Rico to Florida. Thousands are seeking refuge in Palm Beach County.

For many evacuees their physical needs have been met, but doctors say now it's time to focus on their mental health.

Yahaira Gonzalez fled from Puerto Rico a little more than two months ago. She is almost 8 months pregnant and left most of her family behind.

"I have to start a new life," she told WPTV. "I left my family behind, even my dog is there."

She said Hurricane Maria has left Puerto Rico unrecognizable.

"It's sad to see all of that," Gonzales said. "To see people, elderly people my own parents and my own family in that situation."

Her physical needs have been met for now. She has food, water, a place to stay and a car. But like many others she still worries about the future.

"I don't have a stable place to stay," she said. "I don't have my things. I don't have a home. I don't have a crib for my baby. I have no stability here."

Dr. Helen Dickey says many people are getting their physical needs met so they are coming out of survival mode and that is when reality sets in.

"People have had to leave so much behind and there will be grief reaction to this," said Dickey.

The crisis intervention hotline is open 24/7. The contact is 2-1-1 or 1-866-882-2991.

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Scripps National Desk
1:29 PM, Dec 17, 2018

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