Canada: 'It's like that friend who betrayed you': Emotional toll of flooding is felt long after waters recede - PressFrom - Canada
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Canada'It's like that friend who betrayed you': Emotional toll of flooding is felt long after waters recede

11:56  15 june  2019
11:56  15 june  2019 Source:   cbc.ca

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'It's like that friend who betrayed you': Emotional toll of flooding is felt long after waters recede © Nick Purdon/CBC Sarah Kirstead stands near where her grandparents' cottage used to be. Losing it to the floods helped her realize that the physical things are not what's most important in life - she still has her memories of growing up there.

If you didn't live through one of the catastrophic floods that hit Canada this spring, you might think they're over.

Once the water recedes, it easy to assume that people's lives return to normal. After all, when the rivers and lakes go back down, the story disappears from the news and the public's attention turns elsewhere.

But what happens to the people still living in the flood zone?

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You ’ re feeling betrayed . Someone you care about, perhaps even love has broken the bonds of trust and done something that cuts deep at your The emotions that result from it are what we mean when we say we ’ re “ feeling betrayed .” After all, the person who betrayed you clearly felt you weren’t.

Floods cause billions in damages every year. There are many different types and causes of flooding . Flash floods are extremely dangerous. Water running downhill into channels and streams begins to "pile up", eventually overrunning the sides of those channels.

Many Canadians experienced some of the worst flooding in recorded history this spring — one of the hardest-hit areas in New Brunswick, where more than 5,500 homes flooded or were threatened, was still recovering from a 2018 inundation. The National sent reporter Nick Purdon and producer Leonardo Palleja to  to find out what happens after the flood.

Dawn Burke

'It's like that friend who betrayed you': Emotional toll of flooding is felt long after waters recede © Nick Purdon/CBC Sanderson stands on the shore of the St. John River, which has threatened to flood her home twice in two years.

"Every time the waves hit, the house shook."

Dawn Burke remembers how the water of Grand Lake rose so high that it reached the ceiling of the main floor inside her house.

"It wasn't worth risking our lives to be in there, so that's when we left,"  she says.

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Perhaps you feel differently, but I don’t readily tell classmates or coworkers or gym buddies about my personal life or share secrets with them until I get to know Being betrayed by just anyone is hard. But when you ’ve been betrayed by someone you thought was your best friend , it can change you .

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That spring day in 2018, her house battered and completely surrounded by water, Burke, 52, and her husband didn't believe there was anything they could do to save it.

So instead they went to help a neighbour.

When they finally returned to the house, Burke says she opened the front door and water poured out.

"That was very dramatic," she says. "But I didn't cry for it. I didn't cry once for it," even though it was the home where she had raised her six children.

"I think for me it was more important to show my kids that material possessions come and go, and that's not what is going to define what we are," Burke says. "There was a lesson there for us all to learn."

Burke says it would have cost more to fix her house than it was worth.

In the end, the province paid Burke a percentage of its value and the family walked away.

Now they've started again.

"My husband is 64 — we never thought at our age we'd be trying to come up with a downpayment," she says.

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DENHAM SPRINGS, La. — Kathryn Morgan, 18, stood on the shore of the neighborhood, waiting for a boat and taking stock. Home, truck, school, workplace, her friends ’ homes: all gone, flooded out. There was less certainty about the fate of her dog, left days ago with some food in a portable kennel.

A flood is an overflow of water that submerges land that is usually dry. In the sense of "flowing water ", the word may also be applied to the inflow of the tide.

"But what's the choice?" she adds.

This spring the family managed to buy a house — far outside the flood zone.

Burke admits she'll miss the lake she loves, but she won't risk being flooded again.

"How high do you build?" Burke asks. "How bad are the floods going to get? So that was a struggle for us."

Sarah Kirstead

Childhood for Sarah Kirstead was all about the cottage her grandfather built almost 50 years ago.

"We played hide and seek, we picked berries, and had campfires all the time," she says. "The cottage was home. I think what it was to me as a child was freedom."

'It's like that friend who betrayed you': Emotional toll of flooding is felt long after waters recede © Provided by Canadian Broadcasting Corporation

Then the flood of 2018 destroyed it.

Kirstead, 22, who is now a professional photographer, has used her camera to make sense of her loss.

"I remember standing in what was their kitchen — the whole front of the cottage was open to the water, the walls were completely gone," she says.

"I thought, 'I lost an era of my life.'"

'It's like that friend who betrayed you': Emotional toll of flooding is felt long after waters recede © Provided by Canadian Broadcasting Corporation

Kirstead is worried about her grandparents, too, because she knows how much they loved the cottage.

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It ’ s about who walked into your life, said “I’m here for you ” and proved it. A real friend is the one who walk with you when everyone walks out. Sometimes I feel like we ’ re friends , sometimes, feel like we ’ re more than friends . But sometimes I feel like I’m just a stranger to you .

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"There was a little bedroom — that was grammy's room," Kirstead remembers. "She used to have a window right onto the lake and she would always listen for the waves in there."

Kirstead says her grandmother was usually at the window of the cottage looking out at the lake when Sarah came to visit.

"In a way it's gone, but it's still here too," Kirstead says.

"That's one thing my grandmother said when we were processing the aftermath. She was like, 'You know, the view is still there. At least the view is still there.'"

'It's like that friend who betrayed you': Emotional toll of flooding is felt long after waters recede © Provided by Canadian Broadcasting Corporation

Kirstead's family decided not to rebuild the cottage. With catastrophic floods two years in a row, they say the water levels are too unpredictable.

Instead, Kirstead's grandparents have parked a trailer near the spot — but higher up and closer to the road.

Kirstead says the flooding has taught her a lot about which things in life really last.

"You want to feel secure and permanent, but I don't necessarily need the cottage to physically be there to understand what it meant to me growing up.

"That's still there," she says.

Lisa Sanderson

"I haven't actually been down to the beach since the flood," Lisa Sanderson admits as she stares out at the St. John River.

On this day the river is perfectly calm.

"I just…" she tries to explain, but pauses.

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"It's a little too real to see the water."

'It's like that friend who betrayed you': Emotional toll of flooding is felt long after waters recede © Provided by Canadian Broadcasting Corporation

Sanderson has been through a lot over the past couple of years.

She and her partner checked the historical flood data before they bought the property in 2012 — water had never come close to the house.

They thought they were safe.

Then in 2018 it took 2,500 sandbags, a dozen people and days of pumping water out of her house to save it.

A flood like that wasn't supposed to happen more than once in her lifetime — but then the water rose again this spring.

One of the things she has learned about floods, Sanderson says, is that they don't get easier the more they happen.

They get harder.

"This year the helplessness was worse. The anxiety was worse, because you know what to expect," she says. "You know how hard it is to see the water coming. It's a feeling of doom and dread. It feels like it is attacking your life."

Sanderson says she has decided to seek counselling to help her with the stress of the floods.

"It's really hard. You picture your life here," she says. "It looks like just a little piece of land to someone, but to us it perks us up when we come home — every single day. But at the same time, we can't go through what we went through the last couple of years."

Sanderson, a high school music teacher in St. John, isn't sure what to do. She and her partner have discussed building a flood wall, and they've looked into moving, too — but how do you sell a house that floods?

"Who is going to want to build here? Who is going to want to live here?

"It was never a concern before," Sanderson adds. "Things are changing. The world is changing."

Standing on the beach as the sun begins to set, Sanderson admits her perspective on the St. John River has changed too.

"When we first came down here this was one of the selling points — standing here and looking at this river," she says.

And now?

"It's like that friend who betrayed you who you still hang out with — you're just careful."

Watch the story from The National about how the aftermath of major flooding continues to affect the lives of people in New Brunswick:

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