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Flood Impact Will Remain Long After The Water is Gone

By Jeffrey Hess | Published 24 May 2011 02:39pm | comments
Signs point the way to a Red Cross flood shelter.

Many Mississippians displaced by this year's flood are anxiously waiting for the water to drop so they can return home. However, as MPB'S Jeffrey Hess reports, the emotional and personal damage from the flood might last much longer than the water.

The gym at the Yazoo County Junior High School serves as a Red Cross shelter for people fleeing the flooded Mississippi.

In the nearly empty gym, 70-year old Glenda Parker explains that she stayed in her Wolf Lake home with her son and daughter-in-law until water started spilling into their Kitchen.

"In '08 and other years that it has flooded it has never even gotten close because there is a large defense at the back that is kind of like a dam. But that is why we were so complacent because we thought it was going to stop but it didn't. This year has just been unnatural," Parker said.

Parker is planning to lease an apartment because she expects their mobile home to be a total loss.

The Shelter manager is John unemployed California native who left his home to help Mississippi.....says at its fullest the shelter held 9 people but mostly serves as a transition point for flood victims moving to longer term housing.

"We're quite fortunate that this community is very aware of how to respond to floods. In this particular problem, they have either locale family members or alternative housing that they are able to live with. They are quite aware that this is a long term drain, so that is kind of a great answer," Saguda said.

Escaping a flooded house and finding new shelter is just the first step. The disaster can also leave deep emotional and mental stress.

Red Cross Clinical Counselor Jerry Schafer says the slow but inevitable approach of the flood combined with its long impact creates a brew of uncertainty, anxiety and stress.

"When you don't know, you generate all kind of other fears about 'if it is going to happen'. When I don't know what the next thing is going to be, I get more anxious," Schafer said.

The flood can also exacerbate existing mental health problems and cause nervous children to act out.

It also puts pressure on people who weren't affected by the water but are taking care of flooded friends and families.

Schafer says actively planning for life after the flood can remove some uncertainty and stress and help victims emotionally recover from the flood.


Signs point the way to a Red Cross flood shelter.



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