Coping after a flood

Everyone will act differently to an event like a flood. Some of the reactions you, your family or neighbours may experience are:

  • Shock
  • Helplessness
  • Frustration and anger
  • Isolation and loneliness
  • Disbelief
  • Stress
  • Fear and anxiety
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Flashbacks and nightmares
  • Low mood and depression

These reactions are completely normal. There is no right or wrong way to be coping or feeling. We all have different ways of responding to situations.

Immediate ways of coping

  • Rest and be with those who are important to you. Take time to reflect on what has happened
  • Do not bottle feelings up. Talk to family and friends about how you feel
  • Keep a routine. Try to keep to your regular daily activities. It will help you stay busy and channel your emotions
  • Make a list or plan the next few weeks. This can help calm down anxious feelings of getting back to normal
  • Encourage children to express their feelings. Drawing and games can be good ways for children to express themselves
  • Do not take on too much, or make any major life changes
  • Avoid excessive alcohol and any drugs. They are often used as a way of coping but they tend to block the feelings that will emerge in the end

You know yourself and the people you love best. You are best placed to decide what works for you.

Coping in the following weeks and months

Many people will experience anxiety or low mood. For most people, these will gradually disappear over time with support from family, friends and your local community.

A period of ‘watchful waiting’ is advised. This means just keeping an eye on yourself and others. Consider how things are going, before assuming that any reactions will not go away on their own with time. Research and local experience tells us a small number of people go on to experience problems that require additional help. This includes depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and chronic worry.

Who can help

Help is available if you feel:

  • Your responses to the flood are difficult to manage
  • You are not getting better
  • How you feel is starting to interfere with your daily life

Getting help can be the best thing for you. 

A first step could be to speak to your doctor. If you are in immediate danger always call the emergency services on 999.

Support services

These services focus specifically on psychological health and wellbeing. They will not be able to help with the physical effects of the flood.

  • Mind provides support and counselling for mental health and trauma
  • Wellbeing support in Norfolk and Waveney is an NHS service providing help for adults suffering depression or anxiety
  • Samaritans provide confidential emotional support for people who are distressed and experiencing suicidal feelings
  • National Flood Forum supports and represents flood risk communities
  • The Silver Line is a confidential helpline for older people. The service offers information, advice and friendship. Call 0800 470 8090 (24 hours a day)