AURORA FLOOD OF ’13: Experts say stress can build for flood victims

“It was nature; nobody planned on it,” she said. “It’s not an accident, it’s not like plowing into a car. And that’s shocking and difficult to deal with because it’s nobody’s fault.”

AURORA | Charlie Furlough was at her Aurora home watching the rain come down in sheets Sept. 12 when her daughter called to say the family car had flooded.

“She had no idea there was a big dip in the street, and she got stuck and the car stalled,” Furlough said. “The water kept rising to her ankles, and she tried to back up but couldn’t get the car to start.”

Flood Victim

Ricci Ballif's CD collection airs out after more than a foot of water seeped into her basement during September's flood, at her home in Aurora. Psychologists say the storm that dumped 14 inches of rain in the city had impacts that stretched beyond financial losses. People who were affected by the floods are at risk for stress-related impacts. (Marla R. Keown/Aurora Sentinel)

Flood Victim

Ricci Ballif pulled up all the carpet in her basement after more than a foot of water seeped in during September's flood, at her home in Aurora. Psychologists say the storm that dumped 14 inches of rain in the city had impacts that stretched beyond financial losses. People who were affected by the floods are at risk for stress-related impacts. (Marla R. Keown/Aurora Sentinel)

Flood Victim

Ricci Ballif pulled up all the carpet in her basement after more than a foot of water seeped in during September's flood, at her home in Aurora. Psychologists say the storm that dumped 14 inches of rain in the city had impacts that stretched beyond financial losses. People who were affected by the floods are at risk for stress-related impacts. (Marla R. Keown/Aurora Sentinel)

Firemen had to rescue Furlough’s daughter from the gold Chrysler Town & Country, which was halfway submerged near the intersection of East Mexico Avenue and South Troy Street. Furlough, meanwhile, was anxious.

The flood was the latest in a string of traumas that Furlough and her family had to deal with over the past three months, and it’s been hard for everyone to get back to normal, Furlough said.

“It was nature; nobody planned on it,” she said. “It’s not an accident, it’s not like plowing into a car. And that’s shocking and difficult to deal with because it’s nobody’s fault.”

Psychologists say the storm that dumped 14 inches of rain in the city had impacts that stretched beyond financial losses. People who were affected by the floods are at risk for stress-related impacts such as acute stress disorder, said Adria Pearson, psychologist and assistant professor at the University of Colorado Depression Center.

That’s because their lives were changed so suddenly, she said.

“It could feel even more traumatic because it’s outside the scope of what anybody is even prepared to deal with,” she said.

People who lost their cars during the flood or had their basements flooded will sometimes avoid talking about it, avoid repairing their homes or cars, and have difficulty putting their lives back together, Pearson said. Even people who weren’t directly impacted by the floods but who were in or near the Aurora area or watching coverage on television can experience those symptoms, which can last for a few days or for more than a month, Pearson said. If a person is having trouble coping and the symptoms are severe enough to impact social or work functioning, that could be a sign of acute stress disorder, she said. If the symptoms last more than one month, that might signal post-traumatic stress disorder. Pearson advises people to identify a plan of action to regain their sense of control, take a break from watching any news coverage associated with the event and avoid seeing it as an “insurmountable problem,” she said.

“Try to maintain a hopeful outlook,” she said.

Reaching out to friends and family is also crucial, she said.

“Building a sense of resilience through support in the community and social support is really important,” Pearson said. If people are still struggling to cope, she says they should contact a psychologist or counselor.

Grace Zolnosky, director of the Aurora Strong Community Resilience Center, said she encourages Aurora residents impacted by the flood to visit the center if they need help with anything ranging from finding mental health professionals or finding financial assistance to help cover damages.

“If they need something, we can find those resources for them so they don’t have to be running around figuring out who to go to and where to go,” Zolnosky said.

“Shared experience is incredibly useful and helpful,” Pearson said. “When you know somebody who has gone through something similar, then you don’t feel alone.”

For Aurora resident Ricci Ballif, her strategy in the wake of the flood is to take it a day at a time. She and her husband live in the basement of a two-story house in central Aurora, where more than a foot of water seeped in on Sept. 12. Sewage also came into the basement through the drains and the foundation of the house, she said. “It was super frustrating and very sad because most of our stuff we lost,” she said. Couches, pictures and picture frames are all gone, she said. Repairing the damage will take some time, and all she can do now is have a positive outlook, she said.

“It’s been very difficult, but I know it’ll all work out in the end,” she said.

For more information, contact the Metro Crisis Line at 888-885-1222 or the Aurora Strong Community Resilience Center at 303-739-1580.

  • tom sanders

    CHECK THIS OUT…”Stress can build for flood victims” You know……stress can build from a thousand other things just as important…soooo what are you implying?? i should feel more sorry for them? i should worry for them maybe? i should maybe feel despair in my mind.?…maybe give money?…maybe we should enact some special sorry benefit….please get off the “i need special treatment” syndrum because something bad happened….bad things happen every second….AND LIKE YOU NEED A “EXPERT” TO TELL YOU THIS.

  • Dave

    Wow Tom! Your grammar is horrendous! You sure are an idiot!

    *syndrome

    *AN expert

    *numerous punctuation errors

    Sad soul Tom! : (