The recent rainfall in the Foothills brought about a lot of stress and anxiety for Foothills residents.
For many, it conjured trauma and recollections of the 2013 high water level events, which transpired almost exactly nine years prior.
During the most recent rainfall, High River’s Family and Community Support Services (FCSS) was working to provide some calm and comfort and continue to do so for those still shaken by it.
Shelley Koot, Manager of Community Support Services at FCSS, says for many locals, it doesn’t take much to trigger trauma from the 2013 rainfall.
“We’ve talked to people where even just the sound of rain can bring them back to what happened all those years ago. We tried really hard just to get messaging out to people. There’s so much out of our control, whether it’s a natural disaster or a pandemic.”
FCSS largely focused on messaging based around regaining some of that control.
Koot gives examples like putting together a preparedness kit or preparing sandbags, which are genuinely proactive measures that help restore some of that feeling of control.
While it’s important to keep abreast of what’s going on in these situations, Koot encourages people to do so in a healthy way.
“Try to keep a balance. Don’t watch the news all the time, check-in on a regular basis so that you’re still informed but don’t have it on all the time. Your body can’t always recognize that those repeated images aren’t happening all over again.”
At the time, Koot was also pointing locals to the Town of High River updates, where mayor Craig Snodgrass gave comparative figures of what the water levels were like in 2013 compared to what they were at the time.
By sticking to local sources of information, Koot says you can avoid coverage of events from other regions affecting your impression of what’s going on locally.
Of course, locals are welcome to pay FCSS a visit in-person for a chat.
Koot compares the act of holding in stress and emotions around these events to pressure building up inside a balloon.
“Oftentimes, just being able to say your concerns out loud will de-escalate the situation. There’s such power in saying something out loud and having somebody hear you, then, if someone can walk you through those next steps, it’s kinda magic.”
She says people who walk in for a talk aren’t obligated or expected to sign up for anything, but a variety of professional services are there for those interested.
“It’s a safe place to come where you can just check-in and have a chat, and if we think you could benefit from talking to someone with a different level of skills or something like that, we can make that referral.”