Lee County family expresses survivors guilt following tornados

Lee County family expresses survivors guilt following tornadoes

BEAUREGARD, AL (WTVM) - A family whose house and family were spared in the tornado said they have felt survivors guilt the past month.

Survivors guilt is a phenomenon many feel after plane crashes, shootings, and natural disasters, when their lives are spared.

Stephanie Dunson and her daughter, Jessica Ashworth, rushed to Providence Baptist Church before the tornadoes tore through Lee county almost four weeks ago.

When they finally came home later that night, they were shocked.

“We came over the hill and there were a lot of trees in the road and we couldn’t get through," Dunson said. "I couldn’t tell if it got any houses. I couldn’t tell if my neighbors were okay.

Some trees had fallen on their house, but luckily this was fixable.

“The only thing I really lost was a day’s work,” Dunson said.

But now, Dunson and Ashworth said they feel like there’s a huge emotional weight on them after seeing neighbors who lost their homes and others who lost their families.

“That could’ve been me," Ashworth said. "And you look at it and feel so guilty for having everything.”

They’re left asking why: why their homes and families were spared.

“I wish I had an answer for the ones who lost their babies,” Dunson said.

“People’s houses are demolished, gone,” Ashworth said. “I don’t really deserve any of this to be saved, and I want to know why, so bad."

They said many in the community feel the same.

“Anybody that was in the vicinity and able to sleep on their own bed would feel this way," Dunson said. "Would feel hurt, broken.”

Dunson and Ashworth said volunteering and helping out in the community has helped them get through the past month. They urged everyone to talk about these feelings and know they’re not alone.

“If you’re sad, let it out,” Ashworth said. “Don’t hold it in.”

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