FLOOD OF EMOTIONS

United Way fund­ing pro­gram to help flood vic­tims.

Cape Breton Post - - FRONT PAGE - BY EL­IZ­A­BETH PAT­TER­SON

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.”

CAPE BRE­TON POST FILE PHOTO

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.

.D$BSSPO

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