Newsroom > DHHS News Release

June 16, 2011

Jeanne Atkinson, Communications and Legislative Services, (402) 471-8287 or

People Dealing with Flooding are Experiencing Stress

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Lincoln— The flooding in the eastern and western parts of the state is causing disruption and turmoil for many Nebraskans. In times like these, people experience stress.

“Stress is a normal response to events like floods and other natural disasters,” according to Scot Adams, director of the Division of Behavioral Health at the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). “People don’t know what to expect, and that uncertainty adds to the stress.”

Stress can cause physical symptoms, like upset stomach, headaches, and muscle tension. But everyone experiences stress differently. The more signs and symptoms you notice in yourself, the closer you may be to stress overload.

Stress warning signs and symptoms include moodiness, anxiety, irritability, constant worrying, the inability to relax, feeling overwhelmed, a sense of loneliness or isolation, and feelings of depression.

Resilience is the ability to respond positively to difficult situations, to cope with change, and to endure. It involves maintaining flexibility and balance in life during stressful circumstances and traumatic events.

“Resilient people eventually recover from severe stress and loss, and return to what is normal for them,” Adams said.

Signs of resilience include optimism, flexibility, self-confidence, a sense of competence, perseverance, feelings of social connectedness, and hopefulness.

Individuals become resilient by developing a capacity to adapt and by reaching out to others for support. Families can be resilient by providing a sense of belonging to one another. It’s important for members of a family to feel that when their world is unstable, they have each other.

If you are stressed, try to relax by talking with others or by taking some time away from the flood scene to regroup and to rest. Eat balanced meals on a regular basis and, if possible, get some exercise to unwind.

Getting help when it’s needed is crucial to strengthening resilience. If stress is interfering with your day-to-day life or you feel like giving up, get help. Stay in touch with family and friends, find a support network, or talk with a counselor.

If you or someone you know is suffering from stress due to flooding, call the NEMA Public Information Hotline at (855) 211-2453 or (855) 211-2454. The operators can provide you with information on mental health crisis counseling, rebuilding resilience, and available services.

Resources can also be found on the DHHS Network of Care site at or by calling the Nebraska Family Helpline at 1-888-866-8660.