11:58pm

Sun March 4, 2012
Environmental Watchdog

Scenes of Destruction in Henryville

In southern Indiana, emergency workers are turning their attention toward clean-up after tornadoes slammed parts of three counties on Friday. In the Clark County town of Henryville the job is unimaginably huge. On the road to Henryville, you pass semi trucks and school buses turned over. A gas station is totally obliterated. And downtown, things aren’t any better. Houses and businesses were destroyed by last week’s tornado, and the Henryville combined elementary, junior and senior high school is in ruins.

Across the street from the school’s rubble, a school bus is sticking out of the middle of what used to be a restaurant. Next to that is more debris. That used to be Henryville Auto Service. Owner Nick Shelton is picking through the ruins, looking for tools to salvage.

Shelton opened his shop in August. He took refuge from the tornadoes in a neighbor’s basement. When he emerged, all that remained of his business was twisted steel and totaled cars.

“There goes your dreams,” he says. “It’s just like waking up from a good dream.”

He muses about what might be covered by insurance.

“My customers’ cars are okay, probably. Some of my tools will be covered. Part of the building, maybe. But I won’t have enough to rebuild it, I don’t think.”

Troy Albert walks in front of the ruins of the school. He’s the junior and senior high school principal.

“These kids will be all right,” he says. “My seniors will graduate, they will go to college. My kindergartners that are in there will come back and we’ll have a new set next year. We’re just going to have to adjust and adapt, and you know isn’t that life’s lesson?”

The school district hasn’t decided yet where to relocate the school’s 1100 students.

In a moment of normalcy in a bizarre ruined landscape, Henryville High School seniors stop Albert. They’re worried about prom and graduation. Albert assures them that both events will happen as scheduled.