Tornado Leaves Emotional Distress, Too

ATKINS, AR - Not all the damage left by this month's deadly tornadoes can be easily spotted.  Damage in the form of emotional distress lingers and victims of the February 5 tornado deal with it as best they can.

In Atkins, school officials felt it best that children return to school so that they could get counseling as soon as possible, if needed.  School Superintendent Bruce Watkins says the children also were warm, safe, and dry at school, which was more than a lot of them had after the storm.

72-year-old Mel Lewis, whose wife Irene is recovering in a nursing home after being trapped under debris as she fled their mobile home, says he felt guilty because he had persuaded her to move into the trailer.  He says he doesn't need counseling, though, and will get through the troubling times with the help of friends, relatives, and his faith.

Mental-health experts say it's normal for people of all ages to experience stress-related symptoms after a natural disaster.  The symptoms can include nightmares, depression, forgetfulness and a change in appetite.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)