UNT experts available to discuss tornadoes

Tuesday, May 21, 2013 - 14:40

DENTON (UNT), Texas – University of North Texas emergency management and educational psychology experts are available to discuss the tornadoes in Oklahoma.

Dr. David McEntire, professor in UNT’s emergency administration and planning program, can be reached at 940-565-2996 or david.mcentire@unt.edu. McEntire’s research and field of expertise includes emergency management theory, disaster vulnerability reduction, disaster response coordination, terrorism and homeland security, community disaster preparedness, international disasters and sustainability.

Eliot Jennings, lecturer in UNT's emergency administration and planning program and director of the program’s Emergency Operations Center Lab, can be reached at cell: 940-395-7167 or eliot.jennings@unt.edu. Before he came to UNT, Jennings was the operations and planning coordinator for Galveston County's Office of Emergency Management for four years. He also served as the emergency management coordinator for the City of Galveston and later for Galveston County. Jennings was involved in preparing for and responding to five federal disaster declarations during his time in Galveston. He teaches introductory emergency management classes as well as response and recovery courses.

Diane DeSimone, a senior lecturer in UNT’s Department of Engineering Technology is available for interviews on building processes and methods used to make homes and businesses more resistant to severe weather. DeSimone can be reached on her cell phone at 972-965-5351 or by email at Diane.DeSimone@unt.edu.

Dr. Wendy Middlemiss, associate professor of educational psychology at the University of North Texas’ College of Education, is available to discuss how to talk to your children about the tornado that has damaged an Oklahoma elementary school. She can be reached at cell: 724-977-3067 or wendy.middlemiss@unt.edu.

Middlemiss provides the following tips about talking to your children about tornadoes:

  1. Guide children away from news reports and discussions of the disaster and distressing images. Exposure to these images can be as distressing as witnessing them in person, and for young children, it is hard to process and understand these events. It is hard even for adolescents and adults.
  2. Assure children of their safety. Even though the destruction is evident and the sounds and fury of the storm very real, help the children understand they are safe now. Help them know that you are there and will take care of them. Help them understand that you will take steps, little steps, to get things sorted out. It will take time, but they are safe. Assure them that you are with them, and will be with them and that you will do everything to keep them safe. Point to normal activities and their safety.
  3. For all children, discuss the disaster and related issues in a way that fits their age and understanding. With younger children, keep them away from continued newscasts, assure them they are safe and you are there. For children just a bit older, but not yet teens, be very specific about what happened, what it means, what you can do to fix it — and that they are safe. Also keep children this age away from continued TV reports. For teenagers, discuss storms and how they happen and how destruction can be so sudden and random. Assure them they are safe, but let them talk about what it all means to them, to the community. Help them sort out different ideas and connections to the destruction and their lives. For all children, continue to discuss the general safety of everyday routines; help them process the events that occurred, the tragedies related to these events and the fear that can result. Assure all children, old or young, that being scared is a very real and normal response to such an event. Be there.
  4. Ask questions and give clear, simple, but real answers. All children will have some exposure to the events. Ask children what they think; give them time to ask questions. Do so now as things are unfolding, but also remember to ask later as time goes by. Ask children all ages how they feel and what they think. Ask and then listen.
  5. Watch your children, no matter their age. Be sensitive to any changes. With changes, be sure to ask questions. Let children and adolescents know that whatever they are feeling is OK. Help them understand and work through how they feel -- whether frightened, angry, confused or scared. Try to address their most pressing need or concern — even if it seems simple.

UNT News Service
(940) 565-2108