Marysville woman, 79, rebuilds after tornadoes

Helen Pettit, 79, is planning to rebuild in Marysville.

While many people in southern Indiana are not coming back to the area that was devastated by the March 2 tornadoes, one woman has vowed to rebuild.

Like a sentinel, 79-year-old Helen Pettit has seen a few things in her five decades in Marysville and knows the town she raised her family in could be gone.

"A lot of people are not coming back," she said.

From the garden she has maintained on and off for 20 years, she can now see nothing but change around her.

"We may be the only ones here," she said.

When the tornado hit Marysville, it was said the town was blown off the map. Four weeks later, that just might be the case. Pettit's house, one of the few still standing, is coming down. The reason many of the homes in town will not be rebuilt is because they have septic systems and the county is requiring the new homes connect to a sewer system.

"That is what my other daughter said to Elizabeth. [She] says, 'Why do you want to build back here, because there is not gonna be anybody there?'," Pettit said.

Pettit and her oldest daughter are going to rebuild and stay in Marysville. Her garden may be the only item from her past she will still have.

"It clears your mind. You don't think about the bad things, you think about something that is going to be beautiful afterwards, so it helps," she said.

This week, Pettit's husband of 57 years went into hospice care. He never saw the damaged home and Pettit doesn't expect him to see the new one.

"I think I will, because I know he is safe and in heaven," she said.

The tornado took her town and her home, a terminal illness is taking her husband. She is giving Marysville and anyone willing to stop and listen a lesson in living.

"If you do not spend the life you want and should have, then what kind of life are you gonna have?" she said.

With or without a town, Pettit and her garden will be right here for years to come.