Storm Survivors May Struggle With PTSD
TULSA, Oklahoma - People who found themselves in the eye of an EF-2 tornado that ripped through midtown Tulsa about seven months ago know they're lucky to be alive. But mental health experts warn some storm survivors may be trying to cope with PTSD.
Celia Daniel was buried beneath a pile of bricks when the TGI Fridays collapsed.
"Honestly I didn't think I was going to get through it," said Celia Daniel, tornado survivor.
Daniel was rushed to the hospital with a broken vertebrae and several deep gashes and cuts. She made it out alive, but mental health experts say the shock and trauma can linger.
"Symptoms of severe anxiety, flash backs, nightmares; it can be very debilitating," said Mike Brose.
Mike Brose with the Mental Health Association of Oklahoma says about 20 percent of storm survivors develop PTSD.
"The forecast, the anticipation, clouds, thunder, lightning, dark skies, sometimes those very things can be triggers for many of the people who live in this area," he said.
Sydney and her best friend Kaitlyn were eating inside the Whataburger when the tornado blew through.
"I have real bad anxiety so I'm freaking out. Kaitlyn was like squeezing me so tight, saying, it's okay, it's okay," Sydney said.
The girls tell us something as simple as a ring tone that sounds like a siren can put them on edge.
"A lot of times people don't make the association with what they are experiencing with post traumatic stress disorder," said Mike Brose, Mental Health Association of Oklahoma.
But Brose says, just like with veterans coping with PTSD, there is treatment available. He says finding the courage to get help can be the hardest part, but one phone call can be the first step towards recovery and relief as storm season approaches in Oklahoma.