More Lac-Mégantic residents seeking counselling as tragic anniversary approaches

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    Courtesy for Rey Mena

      The town of Lac-Mégantic is preparing for a sad and difficult commemoration this Sunday.

      A year ago, a runaway train exploded in the town center, levelling most of the buildings and killing 47 people.

      In a special five-part series, CJAD 800 News will bring you stories about what has been happening in the town and with its residents over the past year.

      TODAY: Social workers and grief counsellors help town residents cope as they see a rise in requests for aid


      A team of 12 social workers and counsellors in Lac-Mégantic has spent the past 12 months helping residents deal with their grief. And lately they've been seeing a resurgence in the number of calls for help.

      The health and social services agency of the Granit region says they saw five to seven more cases per week at the end of last August when their official program of services ended, and three to four more cases per week at the beginning of last month in the run-up to the anniversary of the tragedy.

      "At one point, it all becomes too much and people seek help," coordinator Céline Larin told CJAD 800 News in an interview at their temporary office in a trailer located at the back of the local hospital.

      "What's striking is that, as you say, how is it that people come to us one year later. For the majority of these people who are being seen in May, they have never shown symptoms before and were apparently doing all right."

      Larin said there can be triggers that may be awakening dormant symptoms and feelings. Larin explained it could be anything from red lights and sunsets that remind people of emergency vehicles or fireballs, or the sound of sirens, screeching tires or the train rolling through town.

      Larin said it's important to reassure people they're not along in their feelings. Larin said their job is to lend an ear, help people understand what's happening and get back to a normal life.

      Larin said they are currently helping about 160 people and they've closed 20% of their patient files since last August.

      "It's a sign of winds towards a better future," Larin said. "It encourages us a lot."

      TOMORROW: How a man who lost three family members in the tragedy has been dealing with his grief which has since turned into anger

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