Academic journal article Indian Journal of Positive Psychology

Adapting to Natural Disasters: A Potrait of Resilience and Psychosocial Support to the People Living in Disaster Prone Areas of West Sumatra in Indonesia

Academic journal article Indian Journal of Positive Psychology

Adapting to Natural Disasters: A Potrait of Resilience and Psychosocial Support to the People Living in Disaster Prone Areas of West Sumatra in Indonesia

Article excerpt

An earthquake struck West Sumatra in 2009 (the Sumatera Eartquake) and inflicted deep psychological impacts, not only on survivor communities (victims) but also people living around them. Padang, Pariaman, Agam, South Pesisir, and Mentawai Island were among the places hardest hit by the disaster and officially announced by Earthquake National Team (Tim Gempa Nasional) and Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) as the most susceptible areas to Earthquake and Tsunami. Then, a 'small scale' tsunami hit Mentawai Island in November 2010 made people's psychological condition more worsened. The people, who especially stayed along the seashore, always panicked when the ground shook, even though it is only on a small scale.

Areas along the seashore were the places hardest hit by the earthquake, so many people living there then decided to abandon their houses. For example, many people in kampuang cino (China town), which is also known as a big trading center in Padang, left their houses since they were afraid of triggered earthquake. At that time, Padang resembled a 'dead' town. Some scholars explained this condition as "town in suspended animation" (Padangonlinc, 12/12/2009). Some changes, either in economy, social, or psychological life of society could be easily observed. For example, when personal anxiety for something uncertain is increasing, the people are more likely to panic, be it stress, or anger or suddenly suffer from a heart attack. Besides that, there was also an increasing number of medical patients who suffered from asthma and fatigue (data was taken from The Red Cross West Sumatra Chapter in Padang, 2010).

However, a year after the earthquake hit Sumatera (postearthquake), people's activities along the seashore returned to normal situation. In addition, the cost of the property near the beach became higher because there were so many investors interested to expand their business of Hotel and Restaurants (Department of Industry and Trade of Padang regional, 2011). This situation indicated that the survivors had recovered from their psychological trauma as time went by, although earthquakes sometimes still strike and also other kinds of natural disasters such as high tides, flood, storm, and landslides still overwhelm them. Furthermore, the issue of tsunamis still spread among the people, although it does not disturb their activities or make them move to safer places anymore. As admitted by some people, alot of information from the government as well as media makes them aware of signs of a tsunami so that they can be well prepared, even to the worst situation that can possibly happen (Fitri, 2012).

On the commemoration year for post Padang earthquake on September 30,2009, it was seen that social support and the existence of support groups hasd become an influential determinant towards the survivor's resilience in removing 'the feeling of loss' and recovering from the traumatic events, so that they could get up soon from such kind of situation and go back to normal activities (Fitri, 2012; Bakti,2010). Hence, this research then aims to analyze how social support and the existence of support groups in the society can improve survivors' resilience, especially in reducing or removing post-traumatic stress disorder. Even though there is no reliable data on the number of people suffering from mental illness (Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse, WHO, 2005) estimates that so many problems occurcd such as socio-cultural problems and inappropriate assessment methods were used.

Natural disaster (as the conflict can do) can destroy structure of human life entirely. For example, a large amount of social-cost must be paid by survivor communities. Source of living is thoroughly shattered, and the situation becoming worse and uncertain, and it is more aggravated by the poverty factors which may also lead to other forms of social problems. Most people lost their property and even family members. …

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