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TORNADOES DAMAGE EMOTIONAL HEALTH
We, who live in Middle Tennessee are just trying to get over the tragedy of the tornadoes that hit on the 5th of this month, February 08, which took so many lives. It is a known thing here that when cold weather is followed by warm weather, a storm occurs and with it, the threat of tornadoes.

Tornadoes are not a new thing in these parts and yet no help is offered for loans to build basements or shelters to keep people from harm. Why not? Prevention is better than a cure for heaven's sake! There could at least be some communal basement type shelters put up and people notified so anyone, WITH their pets too, can go there to keep safe.

If people have to leave their precious pets behind, which are of course like their children in a way as they are dependant, most people will not be able to leave their homes to go for shelter.

I have been living in Tennessee for three years now, having come from England where of course, we do not experience such terrible weather. The odd bad storm maybe, but not accompanied by fearful tornadoes, hurricanes or such strong winds.

I have lived here through a tornado in April 6th 2006, where all areas around us were devastated. We actually watched the tornado many feet away across from our home, as it leapt in the air and moved sideways to demolish another area. We thought we were dead there and then. That feeling is still very vivid and re-occurs in horrendous dreams.

The memory of the 2006 tornado affected us badly, when this recent tornado Feb 5th was again in this area. We tried to pack our valuable papers and belongings at the last minute, hiding in the stronger part of our house waiting for the death sentence to be over. It was a difficult task as our co-ordination was impaired, and we seemed to be going in circles mis-placing things we had just put down to try and keep safe.

I had my tiny Pom in her bag over my shoulder, but was unable to think clearly and had to give up and just look out to see if the tornado appeared in front of us again. The realisation that it had passed us, and the news on the television kept us informed, but hearing that others had been hit, made us feel guilt-ridden as we knew it had missed us but targeted others. We cannot help but wonder if we will be so lucky a third time?

Ever since that first tornado experience I had been dreading another one, but we only had a year's reprieve. Until this year, when it was all let loose again and areas around us got it bad with a great loss of life and homes. This death sentence of a looming tornado is going to happen over and over again.

We are certainly going to build a basement as soon as we are able, and are amazed to find that the government has not made it possible, or at least easier, for the people in this area, so near to Tornado Alley who are also getting regularly hit, to have help with vital loans.

Just to live through this and to try and carry on, is a feat in itself. There is enough stress around without people dreading the tornado season which seems to stretch for three months now. Just two years after the last tornado, there was the threat of one in our area in January this year, (three hit elsewhere in this month) and then this February hit, and two more months to go yet.

February 17th, just a week and a few days after the last tornado, one hit again over Dallas and Prattville amongst some other areas, with the loss of lives and many homes again. As I said earlier, when warm weather hits the cold we have a front that causes storms. Storms which carry the threat of tornadoes due to the clash of the warm on cold air. It could happen at any time without much warning.

These tornadoes are going to be far more regular now that the weather everywhere is so unstable. Can you imagine how those people are feeling who have just gone through a tornado and lost their loved ones and homes, trying to get their lives together again with the help of strangers? Not forgetting the ones who just narrowly escaped and are still suffering trauma? How are these people feeling emotionally, knowing and seeing the loss all around, when it could have been them who underwent this harrowing ordeal?

There already is too much stress on people without them going through more, when shelters built onto their own homes would help them not to be so scared of any storm which may get out of control.

The stress and despair must be horrendous, and how many are going to need counselling and therapy, children included? Each time they hear a storm is on the way, it will put fear into them. It scares me to a certain extent, and I was one of the lucky ones.

Instead of President Bush coming and hugging people, (which may have helped raise some spirits) if he could have promised help with basements and shelters that would have been wonderful. This is the only way to lessen the stress each time a storm is reported and will keep people safer in the only way possible.

I am not a political person and not involved with such things, so I am aghast that such a simple remedy has not been implemented here. It seems that this kind of assistance has been granted elsewhere. The people and Tennessee officials ought to look into this.  But, we can only hope and some might pray that someone cares enough who can actually make people safer in their homes. Or, maybe someone knows how to start a petition?

Life has to be saved at all costs and that includes our pets too!

Donni-Jay




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