Antlophobia - the fear of floods - haunts some in area

By Joe Moskowitz
Every time it rains, it doesn’t necessarily rain pennies from heaven. For far too many area residents, it rains memories of dollars and homes that have been lost or damaged. It has been nearly two years since Hurricane Irene tore through the area, but every time it rains and the rivers turn brown, too many of us wonder if the rain will stop in time.

Margaretville resident Joyce St. George says that can actually be a good thing. St. George, and her husband Frank Canavan, counseled hundreds of Middletown residents, and thousands more people in Ulster County and Sidney in the aftermath of Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee. They were working for Project Hope in conjunction with the Mental Health Association.
She says being aware of the potential for flooding can save lives and property. She says every time there is a flood alert; she calls Middletown Supervisor Marge Miller to make sure all of the emergency plans are ready.

Some people, rather than just being reminded of the flood, actually start to worry, and not just talk about it. But the most serious are the people who suffer from anxiety, and depression. Heavy rains can change their behavior. They are the ones who still need counseling.

Serious issue
There is a name for it and it’s called Antlophobia, the fear of floods. It is a real and serious problem. St. George says it is most likely to occur in people who are the most vulnerable. They live in the most flood prone areas. Their homes may have already been damaged and they are the ones who are the least likely to have the money to go elsewhere.

St. George says that is one of the reasons she and her husband helped start the Community Food Pantry in Arkville. She says some of those people may still be suffering from the psychological effects of Irene and she and her husband are there to offer counseling.

In the meantime, she says work on restoring the streambeds, which is about to begin soon, will help. She says the indication that something is being done will go a long way toward alleviating the fear of flooding every time it rains.