News and Tribune

Clark County

March 2, 2012

'Terrible Tragedy': Henryville devastated by tornado

14 deaths confirmed in Indiana; 38 in total from storms

HENRYVILLE — Brenda Hall sat in a rocking chair Friday evening with a blanket over her knees, inside her home that stood directly in front of Henryville High School.

But the window she was sitting in front of, and the school that was behind her home, were no longer there.

A tornado tore through Henryville on Friday afternoon causing massive damage and killed at least one person in the town. Fourteen fatalities have been confirmed in Indiana and 10 in Kentucky from the wave of storms as of press deadline. Many of the deaths were in counties adjacent to or near Clark County and four serious injuries were reported in Pekin. Homes were flattened, businesses were lost and vehicles tossed around like Hot Wheels cars. Damage is likely to climb into the millions of dollars

“The rocking chair, that’s where it was sitting when it hit, that’s where it’s at now,” said Ernie Hall, Brenda’s husband.

“We heard it on the radio ...‘there’s a tornado touched down in Henryville,’” said Brandy Burton, who is the Halls’ son’s girlfriend. “They were back in the bedroom and I went back there and said, ‘did you hear that?’”

Ernie Hall and Burton said they watched the weather reports on the TV and went out on the front porch when they saw the tornado coming.

“We stood here and watched it coming over the hill and you could just see the debris swirling,” Ernie Hall said.

“You can see it on TV, but that’s nothing compared to seeing it in real life,” Burton said.

Ernie Hall said they ran back into the house, went into an interior hallway and pulled a mattress over themselves.

Then the tornado hit.

“There was junk falling off the walls down on our head; you could feel the wind just sucking at you,” Ernie Hall said.

The wind was pulling air through the crawl space in the ceiling and out of the roof of the house. Most of the roof remained on the Hall’s home, but there were no shingles and no windows left. Inside the home, debris littered the main living room.

“You could just hear it, I mean it was terrible,” Ernie Hall said. “About a minute, a minute-and-a-half later it was all over with. It sounded pretty loud. It was loud and there was a lot of debris and stuff coming down in the house.”

Three homes to the west of the Hall’s home along Ind. 160 were reduced to rubble.

“There used to be houses right across over here that are completely on the ground,” Ernie Hall said. “I’ve got somebody else’s mail in the living room. I have no idea who it belongs to.”

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