Henryville church survives storm, serves as sanctuary

St. Frances Xavier Church survived Friday's storms.

A symbol of strength - a church - remains standing amid the destruction in Henryville.

"Just everything around it's gone. It's amazing, we all talked about that. It's like it stopped here," said volunteer Regina Hughbanks.

The church provided shelter for survivors when the tornadoes tore through.

"They were able to run to the basement just in the nick of time," said Dava O'Brien of Henryville.

Now, St. Frances Xavier has become ground zero for the recovery effort. It's a true sanctuary of supplies and is quite an operation.

"What an operation, exactly," said Clark County Sheriff's Major Chuck Adams.

"A lot of manpower," Hughbanks said.

It is a constant assembly line, hand-to-hand, helping those in need, with cases of water, semis full of food and clothing. Car after car Sunday drove in donations to the church parking lot.

"For example," Adams said. "A lady walked up, earlier this morning, carrying a bucket and some cleaning supplies. I said, 'Would you like to donate?' She said 'Yes, I drove from Dayton, Ohio.'"

Then there was a group of children from Louisville, who gave away $50 in change, money they'd received from their grandfather, Steve Hibbs, and saved for years.

"They decided to go ahead and give it to them. They've got stuff and they know people up here don't have anything and I told them they could at least come up here and see," Hibbs said.

Down in that church basement, where people rode out the storm, the generosity is overwhelming. It is stuffed with supplies on tables, on floors, and in closets.

"We have got clothing. We have everything from garbage bags, toilet paper, food items, water, we have hot meals here," O'Brien said.

"We have corn, green beans, mac and cheese. I'm getting ready to put some more hot dogs on. Something to keep you going," Hughbanks said, while dishing out dinners.

Families in Henryville say it's all about faith.

The church that was a sanctuary from the storm is now a place of refuge and recovery.

"It's a blessing. It's such a blessing," O'Brien said.

All of those donations being collected at St. Frances Xavier can be delivered to those in need. Volunteers also say they are offering transportation to people who want to get to the church to get supplies or a hot meal.