Counselors available to help students dealing with flooding aftermath

Counselors available to help students dealing with flooding aftermath

ANNA, Ill. (KFVS) - Two Heartland counties dealt with major flooding over the summer that left behind a devastating aftermath.

Alexander County and Union County both saw flooding for months during the summer break which damaged land, roads, houses and lives.

Shawnee Community Unit School District teachers, staff and students have helped with the floodfight in these two counties throughout the duration of the flood. Now that the students are back in school, there will be help for anyone with any emotional damage from the flooding impact they endured.

Union County Counseling has two counselors available for the students and staff for three days a week there at the school for the entire school year. They added a counselor this year to help with the post-flooding emotional needs.

"It's really essential that we're there because we provide mental health counseling, counseling for trauma, counseling for grief and really about anything that a child would need to help their overall mental health," Union County Counseling Child and Adolescent Coordinator Kimberly Honey said.

Shawnee School District educates children from Jackson, Union and Alexander Counties, spanning from north of Grand Tower south to Gale, IL.

Honey said students and their families live in a rural area and it's important that everyone help out each other in their time of need.

"Especially now with the flooding and the trauma that those kids have experienced," Honey stated. "It's even more important that we are available to those kids down there."

When the water entered neighborhoods and swallowed roads, not only did the floodwaters damage property, it also limited counselors from visiting and talking with the kids.

“It’s really been hard for us because usually our counselors keep up with them over the summer,” Honey conveyed. “However, unfortunately because of this flood, we haven’t had as much access to them. So school starting this week, I have really excited therapists who are going to be in the school district and are going to be connecting with those kids.”

Leaders, students and their families from the Shawnee Community Unit School District helped out families dealing with the flooding all summer long. They packed food, filled and placed sandbags, moved furniture, sorted cleaning supplies and delivered items to those in need in the community.

“They are important to us,” Shawnee Junior/Senior High Principal Karen Schaefer said in a past interview. “Not just their education but their well being. They’re general welfare is important to us and I think that is a major thing for them to understand.”

Community organizations, neighbors and the school staff even donated enough school supplies for every student for school to alleviate any financial stress or worries.

"To see them come back and they're so excited to see you. It's just a feeling you can't express," Shawnee Elementary School Principal Amy Reynolds said in an interview during the school's registration day. "You just can't explain what that feels like. It's amazing!"

The aftermath of the devastating flooding event will impact some families pockets and stress levels for months or years to come. Honey said that's why it's important that everyone continues to try to help out wherever they can.

"Shawnee School District is wonderful and they are so supportive of their students as you've seen, especially over these last couple of months," Honey added. "We really just want to be that extra help that can be there not only for the students, but for the teachers."

For students who need counseling, they can go to the elementary or junior/senior high principal’s office to request a visit with a counselor during school hours. For those students and family members outside of school hours, call Union County Counseling, open 24 hours a day, at 618-833-8551.

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