There may not have been any direct human fatalities from last summer's flood, but Dr. Tim Eaton, clinical psychologist at Eaton and Associates, located on Fourth Avenue Northwest next to what was the Adult Learning Center, can tell you that there have been numerous psychological tragedies, and they are still taking a toll on the community.
The entire interior of the mental health clinic was destroyed by the flood and took on nearly 7 feet of water, Eaton said, so the interior had to be gutted and new windows installed.
"Just the shell of the building remained standing," he added.
Dr. Tim Eaton, clinical psychologist, sits at the desk in his office on a regular work day. The clinic is back in its original location and open for business to lend listening ears for people wanting to talk about problems they may be facing. Eaton has noticed that his clinic has gotten busier over the past year.
The clinic was only closed for a week or so, though, Eaton said. They moved out a week before the flood and provided counseling services again after the first week, operating out of the basements of New Life Lutheran Church and St. John the Apostle Catholic Church.
"It worked very well and we're very grateful to them." It took eight months for the clinic on Fourth Avenue to be ready for use again.
In order to get the clinic back in operation, Eaton said the entire inside needed to be reconstructed and all the furnace and air-conditioning systems needed replacing.
"Anything inside was no longer useable," he said.
While the clinic on Fourth Avenue was closed, the mental health professionals and clients met primarily in Sunday school rooms in the basement of New Life Lutheran Church, and it worked out well, Eaton said. The mental health professionals had to carry their client folders back and forth and everything was mobile.
"We had to set up a functional office everyday," he said. "Eight months is a long time to do that, but we were able to still see people. We serve a large base of clients."
The psychological issues that Eaton has seen as a result of the flood have been depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. He said he's counseled mostly people already struggling with depression or post-traumatic stress disorder who were already in a fragile state and the flood has exacerbated the stress that much more.
"Everyone is feeling stress from the flood," Eaton said. "Virtually everyone I see ends up talking about the flood, how the city is changing. I hear stress at every level."
The most common psychological issues people have been showing, according to Eaton, have been stress-related symptoms. People talk about feeling more tired and having nightmares and flashbacks, he said. Also, Eaton said floods are the most stressful natural disaster because people have to constantly deal with flood-related issues, and it takes such a long time to recover from them.
The financial impact of the flood has probably been the hardest for Eaton's clients to cope with, he noted, specifically in terms of what the flood has done to their future retirement plans. Another issue that has been difficult for people has been with being displaced for long periods of time.
"When you have no home to come back to, it's a huge impact to not have your own sanctuary that you can escape to," Eaton said.
For those trying to cope with the flood and its aftermath, Eaton said it's important to recognize that recovery takes a long time.
"We need to let ourselves acknowledge that it'll take a long time, it's okay to talk about it, to rest, and to ask for help," he said.
Eaton said he has noticed an increase in people seeking help from mental health professionals. The clinic has gotten busier over the past year, he noted, and not all of the issues have been flood-related.
"Generally, most everyone has a level of tension now that has come from the impact of the flood and how Minot is changing," Eaton said. "People talk about Minot being a tough place to live now."
One good coping mechanism for people who have been affected by the flood, Eaton said, is "making sure we recognize the impact the flood has on us." He also said to recognize how the flood affects you, take a break and talk to somebody about the stress and frustrations you may have.
"Talking can be a very effective coping mechanism," Eaton noted. Also getting the proper amount of sleep and eating properly will help, he added.
The one piece of advice Eaton would give to people trying to cope with the flood and its aftermath, is to give yourself permission to ask for help, such as with rebuilding, or with meals, or talking to someone. Another piece of advice would be for people to recognize that the flood is going to affect them, he added.
"A lot of people want to take care of themselves," Eaton said.
There will be a grand reopening celebration at the clinic on Aug. 17 that will be open to the public.