'It felt like my child's innocence was robbed' Washington family reflects on their emotional road to recovery

By WEEK Reporter

February 26, 2014 Updated Feb 28, 2014 at 12:58 PM CDT

WASHINGTON, Ill. -- It has been about three months since an EF-4 tornado ravaged the city of Washington. Though much of the debris has been cleared and the city is rebuilding, the daily fight to normalcy is far from over.

November 17 is a day many will never forget.

"It was almost like a war scene," said Washington tornado survivor and father Joey Davidson.

"Trees were down, power lines were down. It was.like a bomb went off," said survivor and Joey's wife, Ashley Davidson.

An EF-4 tornado ravaged through their city, ripping away the Davidson's home. They lost everything.

"It wasn't even a house anymore," said Joey. "It was rubble"

Their Washington home collapsed on top of them including on top of 6-year-old Dean and 2-year-old Hadlee.

"We were buried under cinder block, but I heard them crying, so I knew that at least they were still alive," said Ashley.

Now, Joey and Ashley Davidson are renting a house in Peoria, determined to move forward.

However, the road to recovery has been a long one.

"What ticked me off the most was not being able to jump in and take control of the situation," said Joey.

We spoke to Joey at the hospital on November 18, 2013. For months he could barely walk.

"I had a broken shoulder, broken back, broken ribs," said Joey. "And I had a stick stuck in my head."

Now, the family's physical wounds have healed, but not the emotional ones.

"Hadlee used to sleep through the night, up until November 16," said Ashley.

She still wakes up with night terrors.

"She would get up 10-15 times a night. Sometimes it would be every half hour," said Ashley.

Dean remembers everything.

"I think he honestly thought that a tornado could hit any minute so he had to question everything," said Joey.

"Literally 30 times a day--'Is there a storm coming? Is there a tornado? Where do we go if there is one?'--those says were awful," said Ashley.

Even the simplest things reminded them of the storm.

"If there are clouds outside... if it's cloudy at all," explained Ashley.
"Every sound like the refrigerator kicking on," added Joey.
"It used to be with the garbage truck, with the snow plow. He would ask if that was a tornado coming," said Ashley.

As for parents Joey and Ashley--emotional frustration.

"It feels like your child's innocence has been robbed, so you feel a little cheated," said Joey. "You do everything in your power to protect them, and then that happens."

However, Ashley and Joey are fighters--they refuse to lose this emotional battle.

"Dean sees a counselor at school, and that's help a lot," said Ashley.
"Just taking off for weekends, staying in hotels and just doing different things," explained Joey.

They are also rebuilding their home in Washington.

"We're continuing to look on the bright side...We're getting a main floor laundry!" laughs Ashley. "Everybody is happy and healthy, so we're good. It could have been worse. We're just thankful everyone is alive."

"You just have to be patient is what it is, and I think everything will work itself out," said Joey.

Dean and Hadlee are already doing much better.

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