FLOOD OF EMOTIONS
United Way funding program to help flood victims.
The Thanksgiving flood may have happened on Oct. 10, 2016, but as Lynne McCarron of the United Way is learning, for some, the aftershocks are just beginning to be felt now.
“I had three emails and three phone calls yesterday for the flood,” said McCarron on Wednesday. “I was an hour and a half on the phone with three different people, just listening.
“I’ve had two threats of suicide … so I am not taking this lightly. They need help. People feel so desperate that they feel they have to tell me that and that’s unfortunate. It’s a pain and it’s a loss and it’s up to me to find a way to deal with it.”
McCarron says many people are overwhelmed and devastated by their losses and often it’s not money that they want or need. For those who have lost precious family items and memory-laden pieces such as photos, collections and even clothing that once belonged to deceased family members, money can’t replace what’s gone forever.
“Writing a cheque is not going to make amends for that loss,” said McCarron.
McCarron has met with Bereaved Families of Cape Breton and Family Services as well as other community organizations to see what can be done. While a need for counselling was identified, McCarron said present available services are either overextended or just not right for these specific concerns.
“There’s six-month, ninemonth, 12-month wait lists,” said McCarron. “I thought we can’t wait a year to get these people the help that they need so I went back to Family Services and Bereaved Families and I said OK — if we’re going to do something and we’re going to do it quickly, what is it going to take? How much money are you going to need? I’m taking that money out of flood money because these people need to feel supported. If their money is coming in three months, four months or five months, that’s one thing but they need to feel supported right now.”
Bereaved Families of Cape Breton in conjunction with Family Services began advertising support and share sessions back in December but bad weather and the time of year hampered those initial efforts. But from now until May, monthly sessions are being held in Sydney and Glace Bay with the next being held in Glace Bay on Tuesday, Feb. 14 (second Tuesday of the month) at Town House, 150 Commercial St., 7-9 p.m. The next Sydney session will be held Thursday, March 2 (first Thursday of the month) at 188 George St., 7-9 p.m.
Anyone who feels overwhelmed by the flood can attend either the Glace Bay or Sydney session or both. For more information on both sessions, call 902-564-6795.
For Bereaved Families executive director Winn MacNeil, the sessions should at least identify the people who need and want help in coping with their circumstances.
“There are some pretty big messes out there,” said MacNeil. “I don’t think that people realize the state that people are in and the unbelievable situations that people are finding themselves in.
“It’s emotional support for people who need some help right now with the loss that they suffered because of the flood. All kinds of things are brought up in the group and the work happens in the group — people help each other. People are trying to find ways to cope and that’s what we’re looking to provide.”
MacNeil stresses that the groups, which will include a social worker, are for those who are having trouble coping with their situations, and not for advice on how to fill out forms.
“It’s for people who are having difficulty coping emotionally, who need emotional support, who are having difficulty coping with their grief as a result of the flood.”
McCarron says it can take years to deal with such catastrophic losses and she expects the need for the groups to continue.
“People may think now that they can handle it but maybe they’re a little more quicktempered with their children or they’re a little more shorttempered with their colleagues — they’re maybe not fully recognizing it so we’re going to run it for a while yet,” said McCarron.
“We are financially supporting it because I think it’s important for our community to get back to resiliency — I think people are going to need help to do that.”
While external damage from the October flood can be eventually repaired sometimes fixing the internal problems and struggles that were caused by the major weather event can be a more difficult challenge.