Tornadoes can affect victims long after, counselors say

By Thomas Garcia: Quay County Sun

Free counseling is being offered to the residents of Logan after the March 23 tornado.

“The crisis might have passed but it is far from over for those who were affected by it.,” said Tucumcari Mental Health Resource Director Heidi Fenton. “After a crisis people are so busy putting their lives back together that it could take a few days or weeks and sometimes years before the psychological impact surfaces. The effects could be long lasting, so that is why we are going to be in Logan and be available to those who need help.”

People working to rebuild after a crisis often don’t recognize the symptoms of what could develop into a serious problem affecting both their physical and psychological well being, said a Tucumcari mental heath counselor.

Five days after the tornado, one Logan resident, after hearing a strong wind outside her house, had to walk out of her home to calm her nerves.

“I was in my house and a wind came up and shook the house and I fell to the floor,” said Angie Chavez. “I thought it was another tornado. But my grandson helped me up and told me that it was just the wind. I had a tarp over a section of my porch that had been torn off. It was flapping in the wind and it sounded just like the tornado. I just had to get out of there for a little bit.”

Fenton said some symptoms may include
•  Nightmares, trouble sleeping
• Feelings of guilt, hopelessness
• Anger outburst, frequent arguments with family and friends
•  Frequent crying
• Isolation
•  Substance abuse
•  Difficulty communicating or listening
•  Startled easily, memory problems, fatigue

Beginning Thursday, a counselor will be at the Logan Family Health Center, 600 Gallegos St. from 1:30 p.m.-5 p.m., every Thursday in April. Walk-ins are accepted or call 461-3013 for an appointment.