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Flood Relief

Counseling service helps victims of last May’s Millington flood.



The flooding that struck Millington and other parts of northern Shelby County last May sounds like old news. But even though many residents have rebuilt their homes, some are still feeling the disaster's psychological affects.

That's why the Tennessee Recovery Project is offering free counseling to Shelby County flood victims through June 1st of this year.

"Depression has been a big problem [among flood victims]. People in Shelby County are depressed due to the condition of their house," said Abrian Clay, the team leader for the Tennessee Recovery Project's Shelby County crew.

Although rebuilding efforts have been successful for some, Clay estimates that at least 40 percent of the flood victims he's encountered still need some help rebuilding.

Others have repaired damage to their homes but may still have lingering mold from improperly cleaning their property.

"I talked to a woman a few weeks ago, and she had a beautiful house. But there was a lot of mold inside. She had bronchitis, and I'm pretty sure the mold was contributing to her health problems," Clay said.

Hundreds of Millington and northern Shelby County residents were evacuated from their homes on May 1st of last year when torrential rains caused flash flooding across Tennessee. Shortly after the flood, the Shelby County Office of Preparedness estimated the damage at $40 million. Some homes were flooded with more than four feet of water.

The Tennessee Recovery Project receives funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and provides emotional support and flood recovery education across the state. Clay's team focuses solely on victims from Shelby County, and he said his team has been going door-to-door to reach out to as many people as possible before the funding is gone.

Services range from counseling victims with emotional issues to connecting people with resources for rebuilding.

"We provide emotional support and let people vent, but we also provide case management on the different aspects of FEMA," Clay said. "Some people may have been denied funds from FEMA, and we show them resources on how to appeal."

Clay said they also connect people with churches and outreach programs that provide food, clothing, and cleaning products for flood victims.

Until recently, Clay's team didn't have addresses for the people hardest hit by the flood. Those were provided by FEMA only a month ago, and now his team is going door-to-door. Before then, the team set up booths at Walmart and Walgreens stores in affected areas.

The Tennessee Recovery Project currently only offers individual counseling, but Clay said biweekly support groups will be launching by the end of March as a way to encourage victims to continue recovery after FEMA funding is gone.

"Once the program is finished, they can continue to support each other and be of assistance to one another," Clay said.

Those seeking the Tennessee Recovery Project's services for Shelby County should call 259-8920.

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