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SIOP President Addresses Hurricane Harvey


by SIOP Administrative Office

The floodwaters may be receding, but the devastation left by Hurricane Harvey will surely impact its victims for years to come.

Harvey was the wettest tropical cyclone on record in the contiguous United States, and its impact is unparalleled. After what FEMA director Brock Long called the worst disaster the state of Texas has ever seen, the extent of damage continues to be revealed. Harvey has caused at least 65 confirmed deaths, and the results of the subsequent flooding are still impacting the Greater Houston metropolitan area and beyond. The storm has left thousands of residents permanently or temporarily homeless across 11 counties in Texas. Economic losses are preliminarily estimated at between $70 and nearly $200 billion, and the recovery could take years.

If You Were Affected

First and foremost, if Harvey has adversely affected you, we want you to know that you are in our thoughts and prayers. You have the full backing and support of SIOP and its members during this difficult time. SIOP is currently reaching out to members located within the affected areas to offer support. In addition, if you are directly affected and need assistance, please contact SIOP member Tracey Rizzuto at trizzut@lsu.edu or traceyrizzutolsu@gmail.com. In addition, SIOP is working with APA Division 13 and others on an initiative to aid Harvey survivors. Read more on that below.

How You Can Help

I have been in contact with several SIOP members in the region already, and I am currently in Houston offering my assistance to those who have been affected. Many SIOP members have extensive experience dealing with disasters, significant change events, and helping business owners, managers, workers, and organizations implement recovery and development plans.  SIOP members also have access to a wide range of services that could potentially be beneficial in a disaster situation, everything from assistance with re-employment and rebuilding of organizations, businesses, and careers, to clinical and counseling help.

SIOP encourages members to offer their assistance in any way they can to the victims of this devastating storm. Here are a few ways you can help:

  • Donate to Harvey Victims Through a Number of Organizations: A recent New York Times article by Christina Caronaug (August 28, 2017), titled “Where to Donate to Harvey Victims (and How to Avoid Scams),” offers good advice for where to donate and tips for avoiding scams.
  • The Society for Consulting Psychology (APA Division 13) HOPE Initiative: SCP is seeking volunteers for what it is calling the HOPE (Harvey Organizational Psychology Effort) project. This initiative will involve rebuilding as well as efforts beyond business recovery (e.g., book replacement, transportation assistance, virtual guest lectures, etc.). SIOP is volunteering its assistance for this initiative, which involves developing a list of volunteers’ expertise and interests. Tracey Rizzuto, who has extensive experience working on SIOP’s KARE initiative after Hurricane Katrina, is working with SCP’s John Fennig and others to lead SIOP’s work on this project. Specific information regarding how you can volunteer for these efforts is forthcoming. Please check the SIOP website and your email in the coming days and weeks for more information.  
  • Texas Department of State Health Services Disaster Volunteer Registry:  The Texas Disaster Volunteer Registry allows health professionals and lay persons wishing to support medical preparedness and response to register as a responder with participating organizations to provide services during a disaster or public health emergency. Learn more on their website.
  • Emergency Temporary License Now Available to Assist Hurricane Harvey Victims: In accordance with Governor Abbott’s disaster proclamation issued as a result of Hurricane Harvey, the Texas State Board of Examiners of Psychologists has suspended those portions of Rule 463.27 that could prevent, hinder, or delay access to mental health treatment for the areas affected by Hurricane Harvey. Effective immediately, individuals licensed to practice psychology in another jurisdiction may apply for an emergency temporary license from this agency under Rule 463.27.  Upon submission of documentation of current licensure and good standing in another jurisdiction, the agency will issue an emergency temporary license valid for 120 days, or until the Governor’s disaster declaration is lifted or expired. Read more on the Texas State Board of Examiners of Psychologists' website.

Further Reading

Based on SIOP’s work with the KARE initiative after Hurricane Katrina, a few of the members who were instrumental in those efforts have shared their findings and best practices for helping after a disaster:

  • Vandaveer, V., & Rizzuto, T. (2014). In the wake of disaster: Facilitating business recovery. In W. Reichmans (Ed.), Industrial and Organizational Psychology helps the vulnerable: Serving the underserved. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Rizzuto, T. & Vandaveer, V. (2013). Mobilizing action through professional societies. (Chapter 17). Using I-O psychology for the greater good: Helping those who help others. In J.B. Olson-Buchanan, L.L. Koppes Bryan, L.F. Thompson (Eds.) Frontiers Series of the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology. New York: Routledge. (pg. 529-556).
  • Rizzuto, T. (2009). Human dimensions of workplace disaster recovery (Chapter 13). In K. Cherry (Ed.), Lifespan perspectives on natural disasters: Coping with Katrina, Rita, and other storms. New York: Springer, Inc. (pp. 261-280).
  • Rizzuto, T. (2008). Katrina Aid and Relief Effort (KARE) lessons:  Looking back and moving forward (Feature Article). The Industrial-Organizational Psychologist, 45(4), 25-32.
  • Rizzuto, T. & Maloney, L. (2008). Organizing chaos: Lessons from successful crisis management in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice (Special Issue: Hurricane Katrina), 39, 77-86.

I hope the SIOP members affected by this unprecedented storm will take some solace in knowing they are in the thoughts of SIOP’s leaders and membership. I also encourage our members to continue to seek out avenues for helping rebuild after the damage, especially any opportunities there may be to utilize our unique I-O skills and knowledge.

As we now face the aftermath of yet another devastating storm, Hurricane Irma, SIOP’s leadership will continue to explore ways we may offer our assistance to those impacted by these tragedies. We will keep members informed as new developments arise, so please keep checking the SIOP website as well as your email for messages from SIOP!


Fred Oswald, SIOP President