Mental health experts say people are starting to seek help following Derecho

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) – Mental health experts said more people were starting to seek help following the August 10th Derecho.

Those with the Abbe Mental Health Center said learning the cost of the damage, dealing with insurance, and the need to continue cleaning was causing stress.

“I think the only thing that made it was my grandson’s swing set,” Debra Lekin, a resident of northwest Cedar Rapids, said.

Lekin was clearing her property of trees and limbs Wednesday and learning the scope of the damage to her home. A massive tree was down in her front yard. She said she lost six trees in her backyard. Several windows were busted out.

“The adjuster told us to write everything down and take pictures for them to assess,” Lekin said. “That’s taking a while because we had water leaking out of the ceiling and light fixtures. I guess they plan on writing us a check for what they think the damage will cost.”

Not having power or internet service, cutting and hauling massive tree limbs, and figuring out what’s next can cause a lot of stress.

“‘I’ve seen nothing like this before,” Lekin said. “I’ve been through tornadoes, but this was unreal.”

Lekin said she was turning to her late Vietnam veteran husband for a little extra support.

“I talk to him every night,” Lekin said. “It’s almost like he was telling me you’re doing ok, you’re doing ok.”

Those with the Abbe Mental Health Center said some of this stress can be a lot for people to deal with.

“The first week a lot of people were in survival mode,” said Abbe Mental Health Community Services Director Abbey Ferenzi. “People were trying to check on relatives, check on each other, and check to make sure that they were OK. The next week there was a lot of work to be done. Now, some of the busyness has stopped and some of the anxiety, the stress, and overwhelming associated with something like this is setting in.”

Ferenzi said people might be having a hard time sleeping, racing thoughts, and trouble communicating. As more and more work gets completed, Ferenzi said people will get out of the shock stage and start seeking help.

“People need to take it easy on themselves,” Ferenzi said. “They need to understand, whether they have a pre-existing mental health condition or not, this was a traumatic experience for everyone. You have to give yourself a break. We all need to be supportive of each other and try not to be too judgmental.”

That’s exactly what Lekin is doing during this hard time. Leaning on the support of her kids, grandkids, and her late husband to continue grueling work that still needed to be done.

“There’s a lot of people that I’ve seen with trees on their whole house and I’m just thankful that we were all OK,” Ferenzi said. “We’ll just keep having to keep working through it until we get it all done.”

Copyright 2020 KCRG. All rights reserved.

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