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Tornado Survivors Seek Counseling For Emotional Trauma

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GARLAND (CBS11) - The psychological toll left from the 2015 North Texas tornado outbreak that left 13 people dead is still impacting some survivors.

It was two months ago this week that tornados ripped through parts of the metroplex, damaging hundreds of homes, laying waste to people's emotions who lived through the storms.

Survivors are now turning to counseling for help working through the psychological toll it has taken on them.

Sylvia and Bill Sigsbee walk through the remnants of their Garland home two months after it was torn apart around them by a massive tornado.

Even now it's not easy coming back -- especially on a stormy day.

"Weather kind of transports you back to that day," says Sylvia Sigsbee.

The Sigsbee family isn't just dealing with insurance adjusters, they have also been through three counseling sessions to cope with what their eyes and ears won't let them soon forget.

"It doesn't really hit you until weeks after," says Sylvia.

"I don't like to talk about it and I don't like to keep bringing up or anything," says their teenage son Chris.

Free counseling is one of the lesser known and often little used relief resources available to survivors.

"Often times some of these issues some of the feelings and fears of uncertainty really don't kick in until several weeks or months after the disaster happens," says Susan Hoff, United Way of Metropolitan Dallas.

"We feel like things are getting better each day."

But daily sights and sounds can now bring a rush of fear.

"The smoke alarm started going, 'oh my God' I was shaking,' " says Sylvia. "The scariest moment is when the lights go off and you can't see."

But with free counseling, the Sigsbees are determined not to let a few a seconds of terror torment them for a lifetime.

"It's been two months and it is not over," says Sylvia Sigsbee.

This family is still struggling with what they went through and still have the stress of getting their insurance claim processed.

They have one more counseling session and hope those who went through what they did will take advantage of it.

The counseling is one of several disaster relief services offered by the United Way of Metropolitan Dallas including financial assistance, counseling for adults and children, relocation and housing help, respite childcare and transportation for storm victims.

To contribute to United Way's Disaster Relief Fund, click here.

(©2016 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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