A flood of emotions

UNMC’s Robin Zagurski is a behavioral health first responder who has worked the aftermaths of the Sept. 11 attacks, the Von Maur shootings and the Little Sioux tornado.

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The Missouri River floods the lower level of a parking garage at Harrah’s Casino in Council Bluffs, Iowa on Monday.
Below the clinical social worker in UNMC’s psychiatry department discusses the emotional responses Midlanders may experience as flooding intensifies on the Missouri River.

How do the emotions differ in cases of impending disaster, such as a flood, from those people face in sudden calamities like tornadoes?

In these cases, the disaster starts to occur before it actually hits. The uncertainty included in these situations adds a layer of complexity. But no matter what the disaster, emotions run the gamut from anxiety to anger to sadness. … While shock is more common after a sudden event like a tornado, it still occurs when people see the devastation that floods cause.

What are the emotional responses related to people evacuating their homes?

FEAP available

As some employees stand to be greatly affected by floods on the Missouri River, faculty and staff are reminded that the Faculty Employee Assistance Program (FEAP) is available to help with emotional needs.

Employees are encouraged to call Marlene Schneider at 402-559-5175 or Susan Smith at 402-559-5323 to schedule a time to speak with an FEAP specialist.

Our personal space extends to our possessions and many people feel at a loss when they don’t know what’s happening to their possessions. People should make arrangements to get valuables and keepsakes out of their homes before the flood hits.

What can people do to deal with the worry and anxiety that they face in these situations?

Getting accurate information helps deal with anxiety because people know what exactly they are facing and what their options are for protecting themselves, their families and property. Get adequate rest and eat well. Get some aerobic exercise as it will help decrease anxiety. Use coping skills that helped you in the past. Remember that we recharge not only by resting but also by having fun and being with people we love.