Today is my second day out of school due to Hurricane Irma.  I am looking outside my window and I see fallen limbs and basketball goals, broken fences, and damaged roofs.  Needless to say…we were very fortunate.  Although many of my neighbors still lack electricity (my daughter has been out of power for two days), our part of the state really dodged extensive damage.  Unfortunately, there are many families who lost their homes due to either the direct or indirect results of the hurricane.  Not only is there the recent destruction by Irma in the Southeast, but there is the lingering devastation left by Harvey and the impending uncertainty of Hurricane Jose.  The 2017 hurricane season is definitely making itself known in the Caribbean and US!

Out of the ruins of these devastating storms, there are always the victims. Often people who are taken out of their everyday routines desire a sense of normalcy.  Fortunately, school can be that place of safety and peace for students who have experienced a disaster or traumatic event like a hurricane.  As school counselors, you may see an influx of students coming from other regions of the country who have been displaced by a major storm. It is important to have resources to deal with students’ needs from trauma.  Dr. Robin Gorwitch reported in an ASCA Webinar from 2011 that students who experience trauma could face the following impacts on learning:

  • Decreased lQ and reading ability;
  • Lower grade point average;
  • Higher absenteeism;
  • Decreased rates in graduation;
  • Higher rates of expulsion

To combat the negative impact on learning and the other effects of natural disasters, there are many resources that are available for review when you may be unsure of how to deal with displaced students.  Below, I have provided a list of resources that will give you guidance on how to speak to students experiencing trauma, how to ensure the educational rights of homeless students, and conducting activities for students who have experienced natural disasters. In addition, there are several upcoming webinars available that will provide additional information for educators regarding homelessness.


School Crisis Center – Provides free resources for school counselors from responding to terrorist attacks to suicide. Also includes notification templates for schools.

Tips for Speaking to Students Who Experience Disaster

Resources for Students Experiencing Disasters

Tips for Talking With and Helping Students and Youth Cope after a Disaster or Traumatic Event

Helping Children After a Natural Disaster: Information for Families and Educators

American School Counselor Association: Helping Students after a Hurricane

Teacher Guidelines for Helping Students after a Hurricane

Guidelines for Schools Working with Displaced Students

Meeting the Educational Needs of Students Displaced by Disasters

Supporting the Education of Unaccompanied Students Experiencing Homelessness

What School Administrators Need to Know About the Educational Rights of Children and Youth Displaced by Disasters

When Legal Guardians are not Present: Enrolling Students on Their Own

Enrolling Children and Youth Experiencing Homelessness in School

What is a Local Homeless Education Liaison?

Who is Homeless?

Summary of the McKinney-Vento Act of 2001

Information for Parents 

After the Storm: Information for Parents on How Schools Can Help After a Disaster

Psychological First Aid Training for Teachers

Psychological First Aid Training (checklist for teachers to identify students who are at-risk and need a referral)

Webinars for Educators

Supporting the Education of Unaccompanied Homeless Students Under ESSA

Understanding Doubling Up

Paving the Way to College for Students Experiencing Homelessness

Student Activities

Simple Activities for Children and Adolescents

Other Posts from For High School Counselors about Homeless Students

Helping Homeless Teens when the Couch is their Home


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