Henryville students have emotional reunion with teachers

Elementary students had a day of fun as they reunited with teachers.

Students at Henryville Elementary school gathered for an emotional reunion with their teachers Saturday.

Outside of the Memphis Christian Church, the sound of laughter fills the air. The school kids are getting a reprieve from the destruction that has surrounded them for the past week.

"I haven't seen these guys since the school went down. It's kind of hard to believe that it's gone," said several sixth graders.

"It means everything. It means everything to see them all smiling and to see them laughing," said parent Jenna Sheppard, who is still shaken over the devastating storms.

As children played in bounce houses and on playground equipment, parents shared stories and teachers reunited with their kids. It was the first time sixth grade teacher Sally Edrington has been able to see her students since the school was ripped apart last week.

"You don't know how everybody is and I could hardly get a signal to locate anyone," said Edrington

The emotional toll this will take on these kids is still not clear. They've lost their school, some have lost their homes, so anything normal right now is vital.

"Your life is not the same. This is very good for our community and the kids to be able to see one another again and play and feel like kids, so this is great," said parent Cari Mattingly.

The single mom and her 12-year-old daughter live directly across from the school. They watched the first twister as it barreled towards the high school. Fearing the worst, they took cover in the basement.

"In that moment, you know that you're going to die and that's it. We just embraced each other and held onto each other as tight as we could. We said our 'I love yous.' Every breath I took I savored it and held onto it because I thought it would be my last, but we're here," Mattingly said.

Mattingly's home was damaged and her salon, which was located next to the house was leveled, taking her income with it.

"It's very hard and very difficult. Very traumatizing," she said.

Mattingly is most concerned with how her daughter is handling the stress of losing her home and her school.

"Our lives wont be the same as far as when that next tornado siren goes off and storms and sounds that we hear and reliving that moment over and over again," she said.

Like countless other storm victims, the pair is finding strength in their neighbors and complete strangers. In the face of tragedy, this community has become closer.

"You can't rebuild the people, but you can rebuild the town and so we'll be back we will all be back together," said Sheppard.

By leaning on one another and taking it one day at a time they all rely on the hope that better days are ahead.