Tornadoes hit the small town of Henryville, Indiana on March 2, 2012. Now, the town begins go pick up the pieces.
For those of you who didn’t know already, I live in the small town of Henryville, Indiana. Until March 2, 2012, very few people had heard of this town. I had hoped to write a book that might one day put it on the map, but Mother Nature took care of that in a way none of us expected or wanted. These are the photos taken before and after the storm.
March 2nd was an absolutely beautiful March day. The temperature was in the low 70s and the sun was shining all day. Even though the weather forecasters had been warning us that there were storms headed our way, it wasn’t something that seemed too concerning. This is Indiana… we get little tornadoes all the time. You get to your shelter just in case, but very rarely does anything come of it. In fact, I had laughed at the newscasters earlier in the day, telling my younger daughter, who schools at home, that they are so dramatic and nothing ever happens. My oldest daughter is a senior at the local high school.
You see, the weathermen often get very excited over an inch of snow or a little sleet. This tends to make you pay less and less attention to them, but this was one time we should have payed closer attention as we all soon found out…
In the Moments Before It Hit…
It was about 1:00 p.m. when my husband made it home and I realized that schools all around us had let out, but that my high school senior was still at Henryville. We watched the news and started to get really worried. At about 2:40, my husband phoned the school to find out if they were letting the kids out and we were informed they had just released them. The problem? The storms were almost on us and we live at least 10 minutes from the school on the outskirts of Henryville. I considered phoning my daughter and telling her to stay at the school, but am thankful I ultimately decided she had time to make it home.
I want to make it clear here that the administration at the Henryville schools are heroes. As a former educator, I know that it is the district that makes the call on when to go home and when to go into school. I believe they did the best they could in a difficult situation. I have had others comment that the school called it too close, but I do not believe they can be blamed for that decision. They had the choice to keep them or release them and by choosing to release them, they likely at the very minimum saved my daughter from injury and perhaps saved her life.
A Close Call
My older daughter made it home about five to ten minutes before what you see in that first picture passed by our house. The path would have been the path she takes home. She walked in the door and said, “I hope I’m not in trouble. I had to speed.” Trust me that this is one time I couldn’t have cared less if she went 100 mph as long as she made it home safe.
My husband snapped that photo, screamed at us to take cover and at me to call our friends in Henryville and tell them it was headed right for them and to get somewhere safe – NOW! As soon as he said it, we lost power and the phones died. I used my cell phone to send a quick text message to take cover, but was not sure if it went out to our friends as the cell service went out almost immediately and went to emergency calls only.
My crazy husband went outside and took video and the picture you see above from the front porch of our house. The sound was a bit like a train, but louder and with an ominous rumble. The hail that followed right after was the size of tennis balls. I wondered if it was going to come through the ceiling. I am 42 and I’ve never seen a tornado that big in Indiana or hail that big. Our dogs were going nuts and barking and the cat had huge eyes and hunkered down in the mud room with us.
No Communication With Anyone
The storm was so powerful that it uprooted phone lines, power lines and knocked out cell service. There was no communication. We knew the tornado had hit Henryville because of radio reports. Worried about our friends and if they needed help, we jumped in the car to see if we could get through, but there was no possible way and trying to would only make things worse for those that needed help. We turned around and went home and listened to frightening radio reports until my husband got the generator going and we saw even more frightening scenes on TV.
Once we knew we could make it out the back way, we ventured down to Clarksville, Indiana to have some dinner and see if we could get cell service. We could, but it was very sporadic. However, there were many family and friends texting and calling and trying to see if we were okay, so we did our best to get the word out that the Soards were safe. I managed to get a post on FaceBook and my daughter managed to make sure her best friend and her favorite teacher were safe. Through them, we began to hear that others were also safe.
Picking Up the Pieces
Now, the town of about 1,900 people begins to pick up the pieces and move forward. The senior class wants to stay together and graduate at the school, even if it is in the parking lot. My daughter wonders about so many end of senior year events, like prom, senior trip and graduations. However, she also knows that they have the most important thing, which is that all teachers and classmates are alive. As the editor of the high school’s yearbook, she has started to gather pictures and went into town today. It was hard for her to see it destroyed. She commented that the local pizza place, called Goodfellas, looked like a dollhouse with the back off. Although it is rattling to see that, even through a camera lens, she is determined that out of tragedy, the 2012 class will have an amazing Yearbook to keep and treasure for the rest of their lives. When you see her photos, you’ll see she’s made a good start. Plus, others are submitting photos as well.
Please pray for the town of Henryville. If you want to help, donate to churches like Vienna Baptist, Graceland Baptist, First Baptist Church of Henryville, and Henryville Community Church. I’m sure there are other churches in the area taking donations as well. Please feel free to post in the comments area below if you know of any legitimate places taking collections.
Resources for Henryville Residents to Get Help
These are the places I have heard of that have supplies, shelter or help to provide near you:
- Henryville Community Church
A place to take showers, food, help.
- Country Lake Christian Retreat
- Vienna Baptist in Underwood
Supplies for families.
- Henryville First Baptist
Right in the heart of Henryville. I heard they are collecting donations and can provide some help.
- Rock Creek Community Academy
Near Sellersburg on US 31. They have collected donations and can provide supplies.
- Charlestown High School
Shelter, showers, food. I think affiliated with the Red Cross and maybe FEMA, but not certain.
Please feel free to post any other help you know of.