Henryville rebuilds after tornadoes, but scars remain

Published: .
Updated: .

It's been a year since strong tornadoes tore through southern Indiana, killing 14 people and destroying hundreds of homes. March 2 marks the anniversary of the tornadoes.

Henryville was hit the hardest that day. A lot of rebuilding work has taken place, but there's much to be done.

On one side of the street, the Henryville Elementary School has been rebuilt. But across the street, there are empty lots after storm-damaged homes were razed. Those homes and businesses haven't been rebuilt.

Looking further up towards the ridge line at the edge of this small community, it's apparent how much rebuilding work has already been done - and how far they need to go.

While it's been a year since the tornadoes struck, when you talk to Henryville residents, they say it doesn't seem that long.

"After you've lived through it, you think it's a miracle. You can't believe you are alive," said Trish Gilles.

Gilles and her family can't forget the warnings, the sight and sound of a tornado destroying their home as they prayed in a closet.

"We felt it pick the house straight up, like a fast elevator, the house shot up in the air," said Gilles.

The house crashed down in pieces a couple hundred yards away.

"It's scary to know that everyone in the family survived; our pet turtle survived. To think about those little things; we were hurt; you're in physical pain. But it's stuff that we're gonna get through," Trish said.

Trish, her husband and two of their children had serious injuries. They've recovered physically, but they're still dealing with the emotional repercussions.

"It really feels like it just happened," Trish said.

The tornadoes killed 14 Hoosiers in Clark and surrounding counties. Over 300 homes were destroyed or seriously damaged. Those residents who had insurance have for the most part rebuilt already.

But around 100 families without enough insurance are having their homes rebuilt by volunteers and charitable donations. That process is taking time and some are still homeless.

"Some are living in motels, some with relatives, some in campers. One family lived in a chicken coop," said Carolyn King with March 2 Recovery.

Donated supplies and thousands of volunteers have rebuilt almost 100 homes. One crew from Pittsburgh is in town all week to help.

"They need to know people do care," said volunteer Mike Shiel.

The Gilles family has a new home, but struggle with new fears.

"When your child comes home and they are scared, they lost so much. They had to grow up so fast," Trish Gilles said.