Flood notes: Department of Health and Human Services advising of emotional first aid after floods

Flood notes: Department of Health and Human Services advising of emotional first aid after floods
World-Herald News Service

As Nebraskans recover from a catastrophic storm system that devastated large swaths of the state, it’s natural to experience different and strong emotions. Coping with these feelings and getting help when you need it will help you, your family, and your community recover from a disaster. Connect with family, friends, and others in your community. Take care of yourself and each other, and know when and how to seek help.

It is natural to feel stress, anxiety, grief, and worry during and after a disaster. Everyone reacts differently, and your own feelings will change over time. Notice and accept how you feel. Taking care of your emotional health during an emergency will help you think clearly and react to the urgent needs to protect yourself and your family. Self-care during an emergency will help your long-term healing.

Take the following steps to cope with a disaster:

  • Take care of your body– Try to eat healthy well-balanced meals, exercise regularly, and get plenty of sleep. Avoid alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs.
  • Connect with others– Share your concerns and how you are feeling with a friend or family member. Maintain healthy relationships, and build a strong support system.
  • Take breaks– Make time to unwind and remind yourself that strong feelings will fade. Try taking in deep breaths. Try to do activities you usually enjoy.
  • Stay informed– When you feel that you are missing information, you may become more stressed or nervous. Watch, listen to, or read the news for updates from officials. Be aware that there may be rumors during a crisis, especially on social media. Always check your sources and turn to reliable sources of information like your local government authorities.
  • However, avoid too much exposure to news– Take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories. It can be upsetting to hear about the crisis and see images repeatedly. Try to do enjoyable activities and return to normal life as much as possible and check for updates between breaks.
  • Recovery takes time – be patient with yourself and those around you. Recognize that everyone is stressed and may need some time to put their feelings and thoughts in order. Remind yourself of how you’ve successfully gotten through difficult times in the past.
  • Set priorities – Tackle tasks in small steps.
  • Seek help when needed– If distress impacts activities of your daily life for several days or weeks, talk to a clergy member, counselor, or doctor, or contact the SAMHSA helpline at 1-800-985-5990 or the Nebraska Family Helpline at 1-888-866-8660.

Look out for these common signs of distress:

  • Feelings of numbness, disbelief, anxiety or fear.
  • Changes in appetite, energy, and activity levels.
  • Difficulty concentrating.
  • Difficulty sleeping or nightmares and upsetting thoughts and images.
  • Physical reactions, such as headaches, body pains, stomach problems, and skin rashes.
  • Worsening of chronic health problems.
  • Anger or short-temper.
  • Increased use of alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs.

Help your children cope:

  • Share age-appropriate information
  • Reassure them
  • Address rumors
  • Answer questions
  • Set a good example by taking care of yourself
  • Limit exposure to media and social media of the event.
  • Provide children with opportunities to talk about what they went through or what they think abot it. Encourage them to share concerns and ask questions.

For more tips for self-care during this difficult time, visit https://www.samhsa.gov/dtac/disaster-behavioral-health-resources.

Flooding May Contaminate Private Wells

Recent flood conditions can pose threats to the quality of private water supplies. Flooded private water wells or wells suspected of being impacted by flooding may need to be tested to ensure that they are safe according to the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services. 

“Cloudiness or a change in taste or smell are signs of possible contamination,” said Sue Dempsey, administrator of the DHHS Drinking Water Program. “However, if there is any indication that the water supply has been breached by flood waters, even without noticeable changes in taste or smell, I encourage residents to get a water sample kit for testing.”

Nebraskans can request kits from the Nebraska Public Health Environmental Laboratory to test for coliform bacteria. Order kits online at http://www.nebraska.gov/dhhs/water-test-kits/private.html or by calling (402) 471-3935 between 8 and 5 Monday through Friday.

If people don’t know whether or not their private well has been impacted, only drink bottled, boiled, or disinfected water. To disinfect water bring it to a rolling boil for at least 1 minute. Water may also be disinfected by mixing six drops (1/8 teaspoon) of ordinary household bleach per gallon of water.  Mix the solution thoroughly, and let it stand for 30 minutes before using. Very cloudy water may be strained through a clean cloth before disinfecting or boiling, and the amount of household bleach should be doubled.

Since bacterial contamination may reoccur after a flood, conducting another water analysis a month or two after the first test is advised.

Public drinking water supplies are being closely monitored by a team of DHHS field staff and some systems have been impacted by the flooding. Local officials already have or will notify impacted residents as information becomes available.

The State Emergency Operations Center has been opened to address this and other emergencies related to the storms and flooding this week in Nebraska. A link to updates from the SEOC can be found at https://governor.nebraska.gov/ orhttps://nema.nebraska.gov/news.

DHHS activated its flooding resources webpage at http://dhhs.ne.gov/flooding.

Local health departments are a good resource for more health information and information about cleaning up after a flood. A list of local health departments can be found at http://dhhs.ne.gov/lhd.

Evacuations (full and partial) as of Friday, 1 p.m.:

·         Beemer

·         Belgrade

·         Cedar Rapids

·         Dannebrog

·         Genoa – Lake Oconee

·         Inglewood – DHHS Call Center

·         Randolph City Auditorium

·         Northern Butler County

·         Eastern Richardson County

·         Pender – Senior Living

·         Broken Bow – Senior Center

·         Linoma Beach

·         Norfolk

·         Fremont  – Hospital

·         Anselmo

·         Lynch

·         Wisner

·         South Bend Middle Island

·         Louisville – Trailer Park

·         Cedar Creek – Along River

·         Plattsmouth – OMA Fish & Wildlife

·         Plattsmouth – Moorehead Island

·         Plattsmouth – Beach Road

·         Eastern Washington County

·         Beemer – 6 homes

·         Pleasanton – Homes

·         Bucaneer Bay – Neighborhood

·         Valley – Evacuation

·         Plattsmouth – Low-lying areas

·         Sarpy County – Platte & Missouri River

·         West Point – Western section