After historic flooding, counseling helps students in Carter Co., MO

After historic flooding, counseling helps students in Carter Co., MO

VAN BUREN, MO (KFVS) - The nightmare of historic flooding is still fresh on the minds of people in Carter County, Missouri, and is taking an emotional toll on not just adults but also their kids.

Before last year’s flood hit, Van Buren Schools only had one school counselor. So they decided to hire a social worker to help more at-risk students impacted by the natural disaster.

Through the use of some funding from a $300,000 grant from the Center for Disaster Philanthropy, social worker Charlotte Johnson has been on the job since February this year.

The Van Buren native already had a working relationship with staff and students at school and was in town when the flood hit.

“I think it weighed heavily on this community," Johnson said. ""When it rains or it's cloudy, there is a heaviness. Students are worrying, is it going to flood again?"

Johnson says students and their families are dealing with more stress and anxiety because of all the changes happening since the flood took place.

"Parents were looking for extra hours at work, they needed more income, there wasn't enough food in the home,” Johnson said. “Children pick up on that, they exhibit behaviors they normally wouldn't exhibit. So you just have to take the time sit down and figure out what is that barrier? What is going on? When our goal is to educate these children."

Robbie Williams has been busy running his own business and rebuilding his flooded home. He says flood counselors like Johnson have been there for his teenage daughter when he could not be.

"Well my focus has been on rebuilding rather than her a lot of the time,” Williams said. “That is where the counselor has been important. Keep an eye on how she is doing. I probably failed there a little bit, so it’s been a very important resource.”

Johnson says she has been working in groups and one-on-one with students, as well as doing in home visits and including their parents in the conversation.

She says many kids she has been helping have come a long way.

“I just hope it helps them as a family unit to be stronger,” Johnson said. “I hope I can do something to help that child, to help that family. I’m not looking for praise. I just love doing what I do.”

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