Henryville widow slowly rebuilds life after tornado

Lenora Hunter
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There are many stories of recovery in Henryville this week as we approach one year since tornadoes devastated the town.

In that storm, one man sacrificed his own life to keep his wife safe. Although his widow has rebuilt a new house, rebuilding her life has been difficult.

Her new home may be finished and furnished and full, but for Lenora Hunter, it often feels empty.

"New vehicle, new furniture, new house, and everything's supposed to be okay now, but it's not," Lenora Hunter said through tears.

Nearly one year ago, she lost her house and her husband to the Henryville tornadoes.

"The emptiness is just getting overwhelming now," she explained. "We just had our anniversary Tuesday, would have been 42 years and I don't know it's just...his birthday's going to be the 10th and there's just so much all at once, that it's hard."

Wayne Hunter was a retired nurse, a military veteran and a husband, father and grandfather.

On March 2, 2012, he captured on camera the tornado bearing down on the couple's Henryville home. He died protecting Lenora, after sharing one last "I love you", huddled in the "safe spot" in the center of their house.

Nearly one year later, Lenora still wears his ring. It fits on a finger that's scarred by her own storm injuries.

In her new house, built on the same property that the tornado leveled, she also has pictures and mementos of their life together. Lenora says she's felt his presence there too.

"I know for a fact that he's been here, to check on me," she shared.

Lenora's new normal in her new home includes safety from storms. She built a basement, at the insistence of her children, with five foot thick cement walls.

"Yeah, this will be my safe spot from now on," she said. But even with that physical protection, she says the emotional reality of life alone is tough to take.

"I know that he won't be back, so that makes it hard. So many people, they think okay, it's been a year, time to move on and forget it, but it's so hard! So hard to try to keep moving on."

But Lenora says she will, for her family and because that's what her husband would want her to do.

On Saturday, though, for the one year anniversary of the tornado, she won't attend the Henryville public gathering. Instead, Lenora says she'll spend the day privately, out of town with family. She also plans to lower the American flag outside her home to half-staff, in honor of her husband, Wayne.