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FEMA offers counseling service for flood victims

R-C staff reports

Two teams from Counseling Ordinary People in Emergencies (COPE), a joint Federal Emergency Management Agency-Nevada State Department of Human Resources program, are in Carson Valley to help residents through March 3.

According to George Ehly, COPE problem-solves with flood victims who still have needs that have not been met.

Ehly said, for instance, that after a survey he did last Saturday, he found that many people still have wet mud underneath their houses.

If this is not cleared away, he said, mildew and bacteria production could develop. This, in turn, can cause respiratory infections, particularly to elderly people and those susceptible to infection.

The COPE teams assist people find the help they need – from conducting an inspection of a damaged home and securing appropriate professionals to fix it or obtaining counseling for anxiety and stress.

“What we do is layman- and disaster-counseling,” Ehly said. “We listen to people, and if their frustration and stress level is above where we can no longer deal with it, we refer those people to a clinician or therapist.”

For instance, some children are reported to still have nightmares from the flood and some elderly people continue to be upset over loss and damage to their homes.

The program is no cost to residents and therapy or counseling can be obtained on a sliding scale.

“Sometimes we are just an ear to let people vent,” Ehly said. “On top of that we make observations of physical damage to property and report those to FEMA, or make sure those who have started their paperwork with FEMA are on track.”

The teams have left fliers at houses in the devastated areas of the county to announce COPE’s services, but Ehly is concerned that some people are not living in their damaged homes and so are unaware of COPE’s services.

For information, call him at the COPE office in Yerington, (702) 463-5477.