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Cedar Rapids Gazette (Newspaper) - October 9, 1974, Cedar Rapids, Iowa Cedar Rapids Gazelle: Wed., Oct. 9, 1974 Survivors Of Flood 'Envy Dead' CINCINNATI (UI'l) The most extensive psychological study ever made for It-Kill ac tiou has netted the survivors of a Buffalo Creek. W. Va.. flood a whopping [uillion. hut psychiatrists say the money can't provide what's needed most peace uf mind. Big money won't replace the little, but essential, natural pleasures of life taken from the emotionally depressed resi- dents of the remote coal min- ing area, according to doctors. "The ginseng root can show you what has happened tn tIn- spirit of the says Dr. James Titchc'-er. "Ginseng is an herb found in the hills there and the people of Buffalo Creek used to love In yet out and look for it. "Aren't Interested" "Bui it's not that way any more. And as for hunting and fishing, activities that always made life attractive there, well, the people aren't interested in them any more. "The residents have locked themselves up. They stay at home. Watch television. Drink more. Smoke more. Go visiting less. There's complete disinterest in life. There's ac- tually envy for the dead." To understand what the doc- tor is talking about one must look back to a dreary Saturday morning in February. 11172. A coal mine dam broke and 1511 million gallons of water and sludge cascaded into the 20-mile long Buffahi Creek valley. The death toll was 125. A SB5 million damage suit was filed by 654 survivors, including 251) children, afiaiust owners of the Buffalo Mining Co. This summer a million out of court settlement largest ever granted for psychological damages was reached. Individual Interviews Psychiatric interviews pro- vided leverage for the settlement. Because each sur- vivor had sued separately, the judge ordered individual inter- views. So. Titchener, professor of psychiatry at the 1'imursily of Cincinnati, assembled lid fellow health workers to literally probe the mental health of a community. The findings showed nothing short of an entire way of life heing wiped nut. Reports were dotted with the likes of "serious psychological impairment anxiety depression personality change disorganization of thinking guilt shame loss of ambition." "People are ashamed lhat they arc alive while 125 of their friends are not." says Titchener. "Because they sur- they think others see them as cowards. Believe me. there is plenty of envy for the .lead in Buffalo Creek. "Chances of Hurt" "People are defending against experiencing anything else bad. It's the law of averages, they figure. The less you get involved, the less chance of being hurt. But defenses like these interfere with adjustment back to nor- mal life. "And worst of all, time is not healing (he wounds. It's get- ling worse instead of belter." What can be done? "The best thing would be regular psychiatric treatment, but I doubt if many will seek il answers Titchener. "Or- ganizing the law suit helped somewhat because it represented one type of posi- tive, outward ambition. L'MW ProjccIV "I'd like to sec some group spend the money lo set up a treatment center in the area. That might be a worthwhile projecl for an organixalion like the United Mine Workers "But it's ton late for the best remedy. There should have been an educational program light from the beginning lo let the survivors know what might happen to Ihi-m psycho- logically. "They were not prepared I'M' iln- things they are now going Iliroiigh. Buffalo Creek is a c.vample of what is al Hie nevl place a disaster an mimed lat e I" "'I! MIC iwirs .ih.il Mies 're lo be up any pair o ACT NOW! This offer ends Saturday! Soled anv of our handsome' blazer or pattern sport coals at regular price and lor jusl S5 you can coordinate a pair of our slacks up to C'urrenl fashions and colors. 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