Mentally Coping With The Flood Aftermath

By James Gaddis

July 22, 2010 Updated Jul 27, 2006 at 12:32 AM EDT

John Whalen says he's had a pit in his stomach everyday that he's worked on his family's damaged home in Conklin.
"Unloading 30 years worth of stuff. It took three weeks straight. Took a day off or two to get some mental stability but it's been rough," said John Whalen of Conklin.
The Mental Health Association of the Southern Tier says it's aware of the emotional roller coaster flood victims are riding.
"Just the everyday stress of it and coming back and cleaning your home. And the monetary loss can be devastating," said Lindsey Dutcher of the Mental Health Association of the Southern Tier.
The Association says local doctors and counselors have volunteered their time to help flood victims for free. The group says it could take 1 to 3 years for some people to feel mentally whole again.
Marian Ulco has lived in this home for almost 40 years. Ulco says she's been so busy repairing her home, she doesn't have time to stress, but...
"Of course at night, it's a different story. Now at night, you mull over all of these things during the the day. And its very difficult at night," said Ulco.
Nearly a month after the flood, people say they still have breakdowns, they still cry and they still get upset. And despite all this, they stay very optimistic.
Like a Kirkwood couple that has been living in a motel. And this week, they are spending their vacation cleaning up what's left.
"You've got to have some humor. Warped as it may be. You have to have some sense of humor. And take the small gifts where you can find them."
And all the people devastated by the floods are holding on to those small gifts.
The Mental Health Association is also working to get funding for an outreach, counseling effort called Project Recovery. To contact the Association, you can call 771-8888 or online at "your-mha -dot-com.

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