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Flooding Creates Flood of Emotions

Flooding causes more than property damage. It can cause a flood of emotions.

“Most people are quick to do whatever is necessary: sandbagging, moving personal possessions out of harm’s way, evacuating, helping neighbors,” says Sean Brotherson, North Dakota State University Extension Service family science specialist. “Flood preparations can pull entire neighborhoods together, creating a sense of teamwork and giving neighbors a chance to get to know each other better.”

At the same time, people can experience a sense of disbelief. “This can’t be happening to me,” they think, which leads to a sense of unreality during a disaster. They also may feel anger, panic, anxiety, uncertainty, disorientation or that they’ve lost control of their lives.

But the full force of the emotional flood may not hit them until after the floodwaters recede. That’s when they are exhausted and they can see the damage the flood caused. They experience grief, desperation and depression.

“People need to be prepared to pay more attention to their emotional reactions and the reactions of friends and neighbors at that point,” Brotherson says.

Here are some ways to cope with the emotional aftermath of a flood:

  • Don’t hesitate to ask for help. Many people usually offer to assist flood victims; they just need to know what will be the most helpful.
  • Eat a balanced diet and get enough sleep.
  • Talk with others about your feelings and listen to their feelings and concerns. Look for the positives in the situation together.

For more information, visit www.ag.ndsu.edu/flood or www.extension.org/Floods.

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