Experts say people’s ice storm cleanup should include more than just picking up downed limbs. You also need to remember your mental health.
“It's right here,” said seven-year-old Ashley Swent as she showed off the cot where she sleeps in the Schweitzer United Methodist Church Shelter. “I'm on the third one.”
For Ashley Swent and her three siblings, staying in the Hilton on vacation probably wouldn’t stack up to as much as they’re having at the shelter.
“It’s cool!” said Ashley of the adventure.
But while the kids’ biggest worry is who gets to ride in a box car volunteers made, their mom and dad have a lot more on their minds.
“It’s very stressful,” said Damon Swent.
The Swents haven’t had power since Friday night.
“We don’t know what’s going on because we haven't been able to get a hold of the landlord because he's out of power, too.”
And each day away from home, just brings more questions.
“It's pretty hard because you don't know what's going to happen one day to the next,” added Damon Swent.
“It's very normal,” said Dr. Wanda Holloway of Damon Swent’s anxiety. “Everyone's going to feel a certain amount of stress when things turn upside down.”
Holloway is a psychologist with Burrell Behavioral Health. She says now that the storm is over, it’s time to try to cleanup those feelings.
“We're survivors, we all have survived,” said Holloway. “Rather than having a victim mentality, remind yourself you have survived.”
She suggests putting things in perspective and understanding that trees, cars and homes can be replaced, while human life and family members cannot. She stresses to value what was left after the storm including family and the support of the community.
She then suggests managing your priorities.
“What do I need to do to feel in control?” is the question Holloway says people should ask themselves. "Then become active and do what you can."
She suggests making calls to other family members to see if you can help. It’s also important to establish a routine. Go back to work and get children involved in familiar activities like meal time. Also focus on your personal health.
Remember to eat healthy food and get plenty of sleep. Also try to get some physical activity into your schedule. Holloway says taking a walk can really help.
Doctor Holloway also suggests people talk with others about the storm and its damage. Not only can it relieve stress, but it can help put things in perspective.
For the Skents, they’re making it through by reminding themselves of how they will never forget this time together.