After a Flood – Responding to Stress

I read a study the other day that looked at post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in flood victims. The study observed the long term effects on residents of a flood in Poland in 1997. I was struck by the similarities between that flood and the floods here in Alberta – a sudden and huge water level rise; lack of adequate alert time; little or no time to deploy preventive measures; the permanence of disruptions and the lack of social and psychological support. Little or no financial compensation from any source was also a factor, and I expect that may be a reality for many of the residents of Hidden Valley too.

Now, I’m not going to make light of this, because I think it is important for each and every one of us to think about why we might be feeling the way we are today, and understand why we might still be feeling ‘off’ years from now if we don’t actively seek solutions.

We didn’t just lose our cabins or homes – we lost our community and all the things that meant. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – the majority of flood victims in Alberta will eventually return to their communities. The residents of Hidden Valley will not.

I’m only mentioning all this because The Car Guy and I have been on this roller coaster ride of loss and adjustment for almost a year now. The loss of his Harley in the accident was the least of the issues we are still trying to come to terms with. The loss of the cabin, with no option to move it, or rescue much in the way of contents, is not a welcome diversion. But in relative terms, we are far more fortunate than a high percentage of the other people in Hidden Valley. I know that, and I send my best to all who have lost far more than I have.

People respond to situations like this in different ways. Some, like me, seek ways to laugh because eventually crying isn’t as helpful. Hidden Valley people are starting to replace their confusion and frustration with humour. One of the Hidden Valley residents posted this on Facebook: “I can’t remember how to hang out in my community. Is it wrong to walk around with a beer?”

I’m sure many others are finding ways to express what they are feeling in a way that makes others smile. If you hear of any, please let me know in the comments below!

Today would have been our Canada Day Parade at  Hidden Valley. Here are a few pictures of parades from previous years:

Happy Canada Day Week-end to one and all from my Hidden Valley Cabin on Lots 319/320. Have a great holiday, wherever you are all!

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15 comments

  1. A loving but heart-wrenching post. One small glimmer of promise….through social media today, your little community may yet thrive together. Let’s hope so.

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    • Thanks Al – Facebook has turned out to be a game saver. Someone asks a question, and a few minutes later, someone posts… another question, or maybe even an answer! The best has been the aerial photos – people have been adding comments to explain where they think each one was taken. This helps people get their bearings and focus on the photo that contains, or no longer contains, their cabin.

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  2. Not to take away from the current situation in Alberta, but similar happenings from half a world away: Uttarakhand floods, India, june 2013. Happened nearly around the same time too. It’s curious how nature works.

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    • We used to read about the floods in India when we lived in the Middle East. It always seemed like India was either flooding or having a drought – such extremes in weather!

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  3. To handle small and big things of loss and disaster with humour must be a good thing. A sad but hopeful post for a future. I cannot imagine the feelings, but I know about using humour to handle difficult things. And – facebook isn’t always bad. Thank you for writing about this.

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    • I suppose many people my age have faced a lot of stressful situations and discovered that humour goes a long way in making a situation less stressful. I keep telling myself that no one from our community died in those flood waters, and that in itself puts a smile on my face.

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  4. Only those who have experienced it can really understand. Nevertheless, my heart goes out to you for this shocking loss, and you have my admiration for your humor in the face of it.

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  5. We (in middle Europe) encountered a 100-year flood of some major rivers recently. I was struck by two things:
    Many people living in the flooded areas were brave and stoic in an admirable way – many of them had already been flooded by the previous 100-year flood in 2002 and yet just stated something like “Well, that’s the disadvantage if you live in an otherwise lovely area near a river.”
    On the other hand there was disaster tourism – I have learned that Germany is particular infamous for that. “Tourists” were even preventing emergency teams from doing their work – appalling and unbelievable.

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    • Yes, I understand what you mean by brave and stoic. We visited Prague shortly after the flood of 2002. We could see where the water had risen to on many of the buildings, and there were still sections of the city that were closed. Many of the bridges were also still closed. Yet, life just when on. Can you imagine anyone suggesting to the people of Prague that they should move their city to higher ground!

      We’ve had three 100-year floods at the cabin since 1995 – each worse than the last. Unlike Germany, no one here goes near a disaster until well after the fact!

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