Mental scars remain for one tornado survivor

In this WTVA special report, Emma Packard sat down with a tornado survivor.

Posted: May 23, 2018 10:05 PM
Updated: May 24, 2018 10:11 AM

MONTPELIER, Miss. (WTVA) - In the last 10 years, one of every three EF-5 tornadoes struck in Mississippi or Alabama, so no one can argue our region is very familiar with the devastation.

"It sounds like a train coming through," said Tonya Wooten.

She remembers it clear. 

"It was like sucking air through the windows," she continued.

April 27, 2011 - the night an EF-3 tornado hit Montpelier in Clay County.

"You could hear trees cracking and popping."

And the next morning, devastation was left behind.

"There were numerous, numerous trees down. There were trees on my brother's vehicles. There were like three vehicles it took out," Wooten said.

And even though her family was okay, the experience left her emotionally scarred.

"To see something come in and in just a matter of seconds, take half of it away - things that you can't replace, some things you can replace. I'm just thankful they made it through it."

Those scars still haunt her and her family to this day.

"You're afraid it's going to happen again," she said. 

She says lightning and thunder terrifies her when a simple thunderstorm comes through.

April Kitchens is a counselor at the North Mississippi Medical Center Behavioral Health Center. She says this is a normal symptom of post-traumatic stress disorder with tornado survivors.

"One thing that you do see are people isolating themselves," Kitchens said. "People becoming extremely fearful whenever there's just simply a rain cloud."

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