As a future social worker, I have contemplated the direct practice and macro areas of social work that I may be interested in after obtaining my MSW. However, I had never given much thought to the importance of social work during natural disasters, complex disasters of war, epidemics, fires, terrorism, and technological disasters. After taking a summer class at UNC titled, When Their World Falls Apart: Helping Families and Children Manage the Effects of Disaster, my eyes were opened to catastrophes across the world and how social workers mobilize to offer assistance to those impacted.
Soon after the summer class ended, I remembered that it has been 10 years since Hurricane Katrina made landfall in the Gulf Coast. The storm damaged much of the southeastern United States, but devastated the city of New Orleans with many lost lives, destroyed homes, damaged properties, ruined businesses – leaving the once vibrant city nearly unrecognizable. In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the American Red Cross partnered with social workers from across the country to assist with finding resources, counseling through grief and loss, and to provide support for individuals and families.
Social workers have been involved with disaster relief for quite a long time, and their assistance and expertise will continue to be needed in the future. I would highly recommend this summer class to any social work student in preparation for their direct or macro practice.