Essex family experiencing PTSD symptoms one year after tornado

Essex family experiencing PTSD symptoms one year after tornado

ESSEX, VA (WWBT) - A year after tornadoes ripped through Virginia, families in Essex County say they're struggling with symptoms similar to PTSD.

When it storms, or they hear loud noises, it stirs up the memories of the horror they lived the night of Feb. 24, 2016.

This area is still torn up, a year after that EF3 tornado moved through and took out just about everything in its path. There are still pieces of roof and siding laying here a year later.

Just around the corner on Desha Road is another family who lost their home that night. They're not only dealing with that, but also something else that's stuck with them in the year since.

NBC12 first met Kandi Polk when she got out of the hospital, two days after the tornado hit.  She walked us through the rubble of her home and told us the horror of finding her son injured.

"My son, he was pouring blood and I didn't know if he was still alive or not," said Polk. "He's doing good now."

"How are you doing?" NBC12 reporter Drew Wilder asked.

"I'm doing OK," Polk said through tears.

Polk broke her nose, a toe, and doctors found a hole in her lung. Her daughter broke her arm.

But a year removed from that horrible night you can see this family is moving forward. It's been a difficult journey here, but they're in a new home.

"It was hard, trying to get everything back together and get the kids into a new home and get back to work," Polk said.

But a year later, the fear lingers, something NBC12 has heard a lot from the people in Essex -- a sort of PTSD reaction to stormy weather and even loud sounds, similar to what they all heard tearing through that night.

"I just think something's going to happen, like something's coming towards us, like even an airplane flies over the house, I get kind of upset," Polk said.

She says it's worse for her two kids.

"They just start crying. Even if they hear the airplane, they just bust out crying, they don't like it," said Polk.

Their new home is on the same property, and the tree line in the distance is still a mangled reminder of the tornado that nearly killed them.

"I'm just thankful to still be here and to be a mother to the kids and nothing happen to neither one of us," said Polk.

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