By Michele Maki, volunteer contributor, American Red Cross
“I think I may need some help.” Rowlett, Texas resident Chris Newcomer shares her experience and feelings about surviving a terrifying ordeal. It was the evening of December 26 when the Newcomer family heard the sirens go off. “We knew what to do. We knew to go to the most interior room.” Tom Newcomer explained, “But through mis-communication we got separated.” Tom’s wife, Chris, ran to the interior closet and thought her husband was right behind her, but he and their grown son, daughter and her spouse all ran for the bathroom situated under the staircase.
“I kept waiting for them to join me in the closet,” Chris said, “but that never happened. Then the tornado hit us and I thought, “No!” After the tornado passed, it became very quiet. “I was afraid to open the door and look. I didn’t know if Tom and the kids made it.” Chris tears up at that reflection. “Finally, I yelled, ‘Is everyone okay?’ And I heard them all yelling that they were.” Chris looks up and adds, “The house is a shambles, but we’re all safe. We’re all okay. We even found our little dog was safe.”
Every window was blown out and shards of glass are everywhere and in everything. “We can’t even salvage our clothing. The insurance company told us it’s not safe as there is so much glass in everything. It’s all so hard to take in!”
Then Chris became very quiet and shared, “I’m worried about my daughter, though. She’s had nightmares ever since this happened. I find myself crying a lot.” A Red Cross volunteer offered information about the MARC (Multi-Agency-Resource-Center) and how the Red Cross has partnered up with the local behavioral health agencies to provide assistance to folks like her and her family. “We weren’t going to seek any help, since we have insurance.” Chris explained. “But maybe this is something we should look into. Maybe talking with your trained professionals can help my daughter and me recover emotionally from this.”
The Red Cross will continue to reach out and support families affected by the tornadoes in North Texas. Our trained mental health caseworkers are going out into the communities to speak with people who need their help. If you or someone you know would like to speak with a Disaster Mental Health worker, you can call the Red Cross Disaster Distress Helpline at 1-800-985-5990.