Henryville group collecting stories of tornado recovery

Photos and letters are being sent in by tornado survivors and recovery volunteers.
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Families in southern Indiana who lived through last year's deadly tornadoes are being invited to share their memories about how the tornado changed their lives.

The new project in Henryville, called "Collecting Our Stories," uses pictures, written stories and videotaped accounts to help victims recover.

After surviving the storm, witnessing the damage and commemorating the one-year anniversary of the deadly March 2 tornadoes, there's a need now in Henryville to share.

"The year anniversary came, they understood what they had survived and then it became very important to get that story out. They don't want it forgotten," explained March2Recovery Director Carolyn King.

March2Recovery, the organization helping southern Indiana rebuild, is now embarking on a new mission of historical preservation and emotional healing.

"It just seems important to have a record of what's happened," King said of the Collecting Our Stories project.

Pictures, poems and art projects, along with written and videotaped accounts are all coming into her Henryville office. The collection, to be given to the Clark County Museum, is meant to become almost a time capsule of the tornado experience.

"We're getting pictures. We're getting artifacts. We have this quilt made by the students of Henryville High School. They came up with an idea of something that represented to them what the tornado meant," King said.

Survivors have found this project to be therapeutic as well. Speaking their stories does something for the spirit.

"When they finally can do it, then it's like they own their story at that time," King said.

"It does work that way. You feel alone with your pain until you've talked and shared with someone else," said Father Steve Schaftlein of St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church.

Schaftlein has seen the emotional recovery firsthand in parishioners who've already participated in the project.

"One parishioner, Jason, suddenly, there was a smile on his face and it wasn't just that day. It's been every day since then," Schaftlein said.

Now, March2Recovery plans to collect stories and mementos from more families, along with volunteers and the EMTs and other heroes who helped that day, all giving tangible evidence of what they've survived.

The organization is also working with the Purdue Technology Center to develop a virtual archive of survivors' stories.

If you'd like to share your story, whether as a survivor or even if you live in central Indiana but volunteered in Henryville, you can contact March2Recovery and become a part of the project.

March2Recovery website
March2Recovery Facebook page