Local News

Mental Health Workers Flood into Eastern NC to Help Victims Recover

Posted October 19, 1999

— When your whole world is turned upside down, you need more than just food and shelter. For that reason, theAmerican Red Crosshas dispatched more than 240 mental health workers to eastern North Carolina to help flood victims, the largest number sent to any disaster since the Oklahoma City bombing.

It has been more than a month since Nathaniel and Lucy Couser had to be rescued from their flooded two-story home at 405 Wagoner. Since then, a range of emotions has washed over them.

"I didn't ever think that I'd be the victim," Lucy says.

Red Cross social worker Gordon Drummond and more than 240 other volunteers are in Tarboro to help Lucy and the other victims deal with their emotions.

"Sometimes it's just dealing with the anxiety for a few minutes," Drummond says. "If they need to cry, talk about it, tell their story, that's OK."

Some of the topics flood victims discuss with counselors are the sadness of loss, the frustration of searching for help, the fear of dying.

"I think it's harder right at this stage too," Drummond says, "because the days seem longer, because you're waiting."

Drummond says amid the crisis and chaos, flood victims need direction.

"I think part of what we do is give a little positive, give a little hope," he says.

That hope has given victims like the Cousers a renewed faith in God and humanity.

"I've seen the Red Cross, but I never had that much dealings with them," Nathaniel says. "But, they really get down, and get to your problem and try to help you with that. So I'm thankful for that."

So far, volunteers have conducted nearly 17,000 mental health consultations. Reporter: Cullen Browder


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