Tips on how you can help flood victims cope

SUGARLAND (KTRK) -- In Sugarland's Riverstone Community the damage is evident. And whether you live there, or Wharton, Kingwood, or inside the Loop, the flooding has done a number on people's things and their psyche.

Mike Sullivan has lived in his Meyerland home for 17 years. But the pre-dawn hours of Sunday, when the water came up, are ones he won't forget.

"We got like four inches of rain in an hour. We were getting dumped on," Sullivan said. "I went and turned off the electricity and it was like the Titanic. That's what it reminded me of when the lights went out - Titanic."

Hours later his neighbors left on boats. He didn't wait. He and his wife and his 20-year-old daughter walked out and fought the strong current of floodwater.

"And right there is when our daughter said, 'I can't go any further.' The water was up to her chest," He said. "And you could see the fear in her face. And I said, 'You have to. There's no alternative.'"

They made it. And now they begin the next phase, focused on rebuilding.

They consider themselves fortunate. And while they may be coping just fine, some will not.

Mickey Grimland is a psychotherapist who suggests the best way to wade through recovery is communication.

"You'll see them withdrawal, you'll see them shut down, eating differently, sleeping differently. Those are the telltale signs that something is wrong," she said.

But Grimland says you can help.

"Don't say everything is okay. Say things like 'this is overwhelming,' 'we're going to take it one day at a time,' and talk as much as you can," she said.

It is overwhelming. Belongings piled on the curbs. Lives on pause. Thousands of families just like the Sullivans have a long way back to normal.

If you want to help someone, don't ask "what can I do?" Grimland says you should ask for specific ways to help - what you can do for their kids, or what meals you can bring. Otherwise people are so overwhelmed that people are likely to tell you they're fine and that they don't need any help.

As for children, that's a whole other issue.

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