MU professor receives $2.4 million grant to establish Terrorism and Disaster Center

Tuesday, November 6, 2012 | 4:17 p.m. CST

COLUMBIA — MU's Brian Houston is using a $2.4 million grant he received from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration to help victims with the long-term effects of man-made and natural disasters.

The Terrorism and Disaster Center will focus on dealing with the emotional effects of disasters instead of immediate relief efforts such as providing food and shelter to victims. Houston, an assistant professor in the Department of Communication, will co-direct the center.

Houston said the center will help people be better prepared if disaster strikes. "When disasters are experienced, we can help people deal with them better and recover more efficiently," he said.

The center's headquarters will be at MU, but it will implement programs in Joplin, Kansas City and New Orleans. The center will hire a social worker to train school teachers, counselors and mental health practitioners in those areas on how to deal with the long-term emotional consequences of disasters.

"It's a partnership between the center and the people already in the community," Houston said.

Michael Porter, chairman of the Department of Communication, said the center will bring awareness to the more long-term effects of disasters. He said the center will help remind people that the issues left by a crisis don't go away when the news media leaves.

Houston said the crisis training will be an intervention-type model focused on community resilience and getting a sense of a community's strengths and weaknesses.

"Overall, I hope we can increase our knowledge on how to help people, families and communities," he said.

The grant is the largest the Department of Communication has ever received. The funding from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration will continue until Sept. 30, 2016.

Supervising editor is Elizabeth Brixey.

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