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Mental health needs part of flood recovery in Canton

Cari Leidholt, preparedness team leader with the South Dakota Department of Public Safety, notes the list of cash donations for recovery in Lincoln and Union Counties for flood clean up from corporations, churches and non-profit groups. Both she and Lt. Gov. Matt Michels told reporters that what is needed most are volunteers to help people and cash donations. (Northern Plains News photo/Todd Epp)1 / 3
Cari Leidholt, preparedness team leader with the South Dakota Department of Public Safety, explains the locations of Canton homes in need of repair, cleanup or disinfecting to Lt. Gov. Matt Michels. Leidholt says over 1,100 homes in the Canton area probably need assistance and over 140 homeowners have sought help through the 211 Help Line. The Canton United Methodist Church is the headquarters for volunteer recovery efforts. (Northern Plains News photo/Todd Epp)2 / 3
Lt. Gov. Matt Michels discusses the needs in the Canton community following recent rains and flooding. He says that people should also seek mental health assistance if they are feeling overwhelmed by the damage to their homes and property. (Northern Plains News photo/Todd Epp)3 / 3

CANTON -- Along the streets of this southeast South Dakota community, piles of carpeting, plywood and house furnishing pinpoint where recent heavy rains overwhelmed sump pumps, storm sewers and basements.

Inside the Canton United Methodist Church, where the state of South Dakota has set up a volunteer service center, actual pinpoints on maps show the widespread nature of the damage in Canton and throughout Lincoln County.

But for the Department of Public Safety's Cari Leidholt who is coordinating the volunteer effort, those pinpoints mean real people with real needs -- and not just the need to muck out muddy basements.

"We've had a high demand, this disaster, especially for emotional and spiritual needs," Leidholt said. "That entails having the right kind of people going out and just talking to those folks. It might be that just show up and ask, 'So, I see you've had a lot of damage here.' "

Lt. Gov. Matt Michels, a veteran of the 2011 flood fight on the Missouri River, says there is help available if the cleanup becomes overwhelming.

"It is not a sign of weakness to reach out for help. It's a sign of strength," Michels said. "We all have challenges. And if we have behavioral health needs, we may not know it."

Michels and Leidholt emphasize that residents impacted by the flood call the Help Line at 211. People or groups interested in assisting in the cleanup can also call the same number.

Michels and Leidholt briefed reporters on the cleanup progress in Lincoln and Union Counties Thursday in Canton.

Michels toured flooded areas of Canton on Thursday morning and met with local officials. Flooding began early last week when the town received more than 8 inches of rain in one day.