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Storm anxiety builds after recent tornadoes

After being struck by a tornado in Gretna, some locals have anxiety when the chances of severe storms develop again.

GRETNA, La. — Approaching storms can bring anxiety, especially if your home still has damage that hasn't been fixed from past storms.

And there are still homes in Gretna where last month’s tornado touched down that are open, torn apart.

The Terrytown Playground, on Heritage Avenue, is now open for anyone in need of sturdy, hurricane-grade cover during the storm. Jefferson Parish President Cynthia Lee-Sheng says it's open because there are still people in unsafe mobile homes from Hurricane Ida and last month’s tornadoes, but keep in mind there will be no food, water, or bedding there. And the approaching storm, so close to the last one, is causing people concern.

Oliver Young's home was hit by Hurricanes Zeta, Ida and the December tornado.

“They gonna tear the house down and I've got to start over from scratch.” Young, 56, said while smiling. “That's all I can do.”

He’s gotten no help from Insurance.

“I've been living at the hotel right there at the Holiday Inn.” And who's paying for that? “Me, me!”

The approaching storms make him a little nervous. He's been cutting hair since 1988 while in high school at O. Perry Walker and built his barber shop, Public Enemy Cuts through sweat equity, one clip at a time. 

“'Cause now I might lose my shop if something comes and tear this down and this here's my money maker. So, I need to make some money. Where I can stay paying my hotel bill until the insurance people you know coming in.”

“We know storm anxiety is real. We get this around hurricane season. This is very common. What's different is it's January, right? We're not accustomed to dealing with this now,” said Dr. Michelle Moore, Chief of Psychology at LSU Health Sciences Center.

Dr. Moore says you can do three things to help:

1. Create a safety plan for your family before a crisis happens.

2. Stay informed and keep the TV or phone app on Your Local Weather Experts so if something happens you can take immediate action.

3. Talk about your anxiety.

“Don't feel like you're the only person who feels that way. A lot of other people are feeling this way,” Dr. Moore said.

Jefferson Parish President Lee-Cheng says she learned an important lesson from people like Oliver who went through the December tornado, and that’s why staying home, tuned into local weather updates, is key. 

“All they would say is they had to act so quickly. It was just immediate and you know they barely made it to the room where they were in, and they were able to take shelter, and it was over within 20 seconds. Until I saw it I didn't realize how quickly you had to act,” Lee-Sheng said.

"I had lost a good bit of stuff, but other than that, my body and my soul right here. So, I thank the Lord for that. You know, I guess whatever I lost I can get it again,” Young said.

All Jefferson Parish recreation is canceled tonight, and you are urged to secure patio furniture and bring in your "Yardi Gras" decorations and garbage cans, and to stay away from windows during the high winds.

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