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In Flood Recovery, Don't Neglect Stress

Release date: 
October 21, 1999
Release Number: 

NEW CASTLE, Del. -- Even though the flood waters have receded in Delaware, many people who suffered losses - especially children and the elderly - continue to ride an emotional wave.

"The September floods have caused much personal suffering and loss for those who are particularly vulnerable," said David Ciamaricone, director of the Delaware Mobile Crisis Intervention Center. "We are actively working to assist children, the elderly, disadvantaged persons and those who are traditionally underserved in these next few months."

Eighty-five Delaware potential stress counselors, including State Attorney General M. Jane Brady, received special training from representatives of the National Organization for Victim Assistance (NOVA) at the Delaware Emergency Management Agency (DEMA) headquarters in Smyrna last week. NOVA sent a team of psychologists and social workers for the event, which was jointly sponsored by DEMA and the Criminal Justice Council.

Topics covered included sensitivity to victim losses, calming approaches to questioning, data collection and approaches to help individuals who are in crisis.

If you or someone you know is suffering from signs of stress, you are encouraged to call the Mobile Crisis Intervention Center at 1-800-652-2929 or 302-577-2484 or the American Red Cross at 302-656-6620.

Signs of stress to look for:

  • trouble concentrating or remembering things
  • difficulty making decisions
  • frequently replaying the events and circumstances of the flood in your mind
  • feeling depressed, sad or down much of the time
  • experiencing anxiety or fear, especially when things remind you of the flood
  • nightmares
  • sleep disturbance
  • feeling overwhelmed

Physical signs of stress to look for:

  • fatigue
  • chest pain
  • rapid heart

Behavioral signs of stress to look for:

  • withdrawal
  • restlessness
  • emotional outbursts
  • increased startle reflex

How to cope and what works:

  • Talk to others about your feelings.
  • Take "time off" from cares, worries and home repairs.
  • Don't let yourself become isolated.
  • Pay close attention to your health.

Older adults may be particularly vulnerable to negative feelings and reactions. It is particularly important they ask for support when it is needed.

Special considerations for the elderly include some common feelings such as:

  • memories or feelings associated with prior losses
  • fear of dependency or lack of self-sufficiency
  • worry about limited financial resources and time to rebuild
  • fear of institutionalization
  • fear of a decline in health and limitations on mobility and ability to rebuild

Some common reactions:

  • withdrawal and isolation even from family and friends
  • concealing the full extent of the disaster's impact
  • apathy-no longer caring to rebuild or start over
  • confusion and disorientation
Last Updated: 
July 16, 2012 - 18:46
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