Henryville, Indiana

March 2, 2012

That date doesn't particularly register in anyone's mind anymore. Unless you live in Henryville. In a town as small and as safe as Henryville, nothing ever went wrong. Ever. The 1100 town residents worked in Henryville, shopped in Henryville, even raised children in Henryville. But on Friday March 2, 1100 people's lives changed permanently.

The day started off like any other. My dad drive me and my three little brothers to school. I said goodbye to my brother who was in seventh grade and then walked my two youngest brothers down to the elementary, which was in direct conjunction with the high school. After that, I went to my first period class, Physical Education. It went off without a hitch. I wasn't even remotely aware of the fact that one of the biggest storms to ever sweep across Southern Indiana was raging toward us. After all, the sky was blue, and there wasn't a cloud in sight!

I started to become aware during my next period, Study Hall, when my teacher informed me that should there be an emergency during her class she would unlock the faculty bathrooms and we would all hold on to the plumbing as the storm came through. I didn't put much stock into it though. Mrs. Hunter had always been rather eccentric after all. Half the time th woman had no clue what she was going on about. The sky was still flawless and nothing seemed to be coming in on the horizon. Half way through the class though, I had to leave to go to my Student Council meeting in which the president had said we would most likely have to be held after school because of the impending storms. I actually began to joke with the girl beside me about playing Temple Run as we lined the hallway.

Third block came and went. The sky began to grow dark, but it was nothing we weren't accustomed to. In Southern Indiana you just had to get used to the storms and the rain.

Then my last class of the day came - English. The teacher, Jared Hill, again briefed us on what we should do in case of an emergency. The class went on as usual, but I was becoming painfully aware of the fact that there was lightning off in the distance and the sky was beginning to turn an eerie shade of green. It was only about fifty minutes into the ninety minute class when the principal's voice came over the intercom, "At this time we will be dismissing. There will be no after school activities. Have a wonderful weekend." There was not the typical excitement that came with the end of the school week though. People quickly ran to their lockers and out of the school for what we now know would be the last time.

I ran out into the rain to see if my father's van was waiting for us. Of course it wasn't. Something much more terrifying was waiting for me. There had been a crash in the parking lot in the mad dash that there had been to get cars out of their parking spaces and into the road. Three students flew from the two cars that had crashed. The drama teacher Mrs. Lindley loaded them all into her Pilot and took off down the road. I knew they were all safe, taking shelter in Mrs. Lindley's basement. I crowded under the awning with my friends, Tom and Corinne, the brother and sister duo, as the rain poured and we waited for our parents.

Then came the sirens. They blared like I had never heard. It was truly the most horrific sound a person can ever experience. It alerts you to the fact that your fate is coming. And in most cases, sooner rather than later. We were shepherded back into the hallways by the Psychology teacher, Mr. Hunter, and the Vice Principal, Mr. Neace.

When I arrive in the hall, I found that my middle school brother had already assumed the tornado position in the hallway, along with a few of his classmates. I slid in between him and Tom as we waited for what came next.

I had always fancied Tom. He was my best friend's brother; tall, blonde, and military-bound. I had never seen him in this way before. He was almost as terrified as Corinne and I were. He actually had to have me call his mother for him because his hands were too shaky. I wasn't able to get through to anyone, though; not his mother, my dad, or even 911 to see what the heck was going on.

Soon enough, though my father had come into the school, where he had found the principal and asked if e could take me and my brother home. The principal reluctantly answered, "You're free to go, but you're welcome to stay." and my dad took that opportunity to take us and run.

As my dad dragged us past the doors of the school and into the van, I pleaded with him to take Corinne and Tom with us. He refused though, saying that when their parents came to get them, and there wa no one to get, we would be in some really deep ****. So, I left my best friend and one of my very own section leaders behind in a school that was about to go up in a cloud of smoke.

When we arrived home I asked my mother how bad it was supposed to be and she responded by simply pointing to the TV, where the news was running a constant feed and the meteorologist, Monty Webb was commanding everyone in Henryville to take shelter immediately, as the storm was literally two minutes out. My parents shepherded my brothers and I into the basement then went upstairs to collect the battery-operated radio and some flashlights. Only moments after they left did I see it through our small window. Tearing through our backyard was the half-mile wide tornado, dissipating the town in its wake. I wailed for my mother who came flying down the stairs. I was literally frozen to the spot in which I stood, which forced my father to carry me to the bathtub, where we all huddled.

It didn't touch the house. The horror didn't stop with the tornado that merely destroyed our poorhouse, though. We went upstairs to see what the news had to say about it, as surprisingly still even had power. A mere twenty minutes after the storm hit, photos were swarming Facebook as well as the news. I gasped as I saw what remained of the town I had grown up in. The school wasn't completely gone, but had taken significant damage. I could hardly believe that the exact spot I had been standing only a half an hour prior had actually been destroyed. I knew in my heart that Tom and Corinne had been in the school when it had gone up. It was just up to god whether he wanted them to be okay or not.

The next shock to my system was when I saw what had happened to the area surrounding the school. A close friend of mine, and mh section leader in marching band, Mindy, had been living in a house directly beside the school. Much to my surprise, there was no house left. There wasn't even a pile of rubble. There was literally nothing left. Had she not gone to the local convenient store, The Family Dollar with her son to take cover, I'm fairly certain they would've been blown away right along with the house.

Later that night,y dad took me into town to see one of my friends, Kaitlyn. Her house had sustained some damage and she didn't have running water or electricity, but the house was still livable, so my father had decided to bring a generator to keep her refrigerator running. I had swung by McDonald's before hand to make sure that Kaitlyn and her mother had something to eat, which was the least of their worries. Kaitlyn's father had left for work prior to the tornado, and they hadn't heard from him since. They learned later of course that he was absolutely fine and had taken charge of the triage center, which had been set up at the four-way.

My mom had set up the RV for a few family friends whose home had also sustained damage. They pulled that RV up on the foundation of their home and lived in it for nearly two weeks until they found a hotel that was inviting Henryville residents for a discounted price.

Many people lost their homes and jobs on this horrific day. I could easily say that it was th worst day of my life. A personal friend of my family was the one man from Henryville to have perished and many other families were displaced. Kids lost their school. This is just a classic case of not knowing what you have until it's gone. I never knew how much I lived Henryville until it wasn't there anymore.
CorinthianScore CorinthianScore
18-21, F
2 Responses May 12, 2012

I actually live in Henryville and was their when it happened, it was one of the scariest moments of my life.

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