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Mental health is a focus of Whiteland tornado recovery

WHITELAND, Ind. (WISH) — The sounds of construction can be heard throughout Pearl Street as crews continue to recover from the Whiteland tornado that hit late in the night of March 31.

“It kind of takes it out of you to listen to the knocking and beating all day,” Teresa Young said.

Young is one of the lucky ones on Pearl Street. Her home can be repaired. Others on her street can’t say the same, and, Young said, “Very sad to see that some of them won’t be back.”

Emotions are compounded by the nearly daily reminders of that scary night. Young said, like when a train comes through the community, “It goes by and causes a lot of anxiety and then our civil service alarm is just right there. It goes off and it just makes everything come right back.”

It’s, in a way, a form of post-traumatic stress disorder “because I don’t think I’ll ever get used to it again,” Young said.

Officials in Whiteland told I-Team 8 that mental health concerns have quickly become an important thing for them to track during the recovery.

Carmen Young, Whiteland’s community development director, said “The mental health is a huge component that we’re learning is very critical to address during a situation like this.”

As officials keep tabs on the mental health of people in the community, they are also coordinating the arrival of Federal Emergency Management Agency officials after the federal government declared the storm damage across Indiana a major disaster over the weekend.

Young said, “It’s being organized as we speak, and we hope that by either the end of this week, or the beginning of next, they will be physically present and beginning their steps of recovery.”

Whiteland is grateful for help from FEMA because experts have told the town that a full recovery will take a year.

When help from FEMA arrives, Young told I-Team 8, they’ll find a Whiteland that may never be exactly like it was before the tornado because of what her and her neighbors lived through. “There are some folks that can’t talk about it yet at all, but it’s one of things we’ll have to learn to live with.”

Residents who sustained losses can apply for assistance at, by calling 800-621-3362 or by using the FEMA app.

Mental health resources