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October 11, 2012

Building community: Habitat building blitz continues in Henryville

HENRYVILLE — Pounding hammers and whining saws rang through the cold morning air off Twin Oaks drive in Henryville on Wednesday, just as they had for the last few days.

But the noise signaled new beginnings for 10 families hoping to move onto the street before Christmas.

Volunteers with Habitat for Humanity were building new homes for people who lost their homes to tornadoes on March 2.


Gina Leckron, state director for Habitat for Humanity Indiana, said about 250 volunteers from all over the state and country came together for the organization’s blitz build — where the outer structures of the homes are built in about a week. The interiors of the homes take more time to complete.

“It truly is a miracle that all the resources have lined up in a relatively short period of time,” Leckron said. “To get this many people and all the money mobilized is not something any one person can do. That’s how we know God is in the work Habitat does.”

She said without a Habitat affiliate in Clark County, working with groups from across the state was a necessity, but also convenient for the blitz build.

But for the soon-to-be homeowners like Anthony Nasby and his family, it’s a blessing to have so many people helping.

Nasby, a restaurant manager, said his home missed a direct hit from one of the tornadoes, but the vacuum was strong enough to lift it off the ground and drop it.

He said damage to critical structural beams, the onset of mold from water damage and a hail-damaged roof forced his family to live in an addition he built to the house, which was finished three years ago, but not quite finished completely.

The damage done to the house was too much for him to repair, but he applied and qualified for assistance from Habitat for Humanity.

A group from Elkhart was helping build his home on Twin Oaks. He said he was thankful for every person there.

“It’s great to see everybody donate their time away from their families to help us out,” Nasby said. “You don’t always see strangers working well together, but everyone here is helping each other out. It’s going really well.”

Kris Sullivan, whose family was also displaced by the tornadoes, was on site working on her new home with volunteers.

Her home was lifted off its foundation and set back down, destroying one corner of her house with the kitchen and living room. While the dishes were torn from the cabinets, board games on the second floor were left untouched in an area ripped open by the storm.

She said her family has been living in a rental home in Pekin after they stayed with friends and family for about six weeks following the tornadoes. With their 12-year-old son still attending school in Henryville, she said the 40-minute drive there and to work in Clarksville has added to the troubles her family has faced.

But she said something else has been keeping them up at night — their 7-week-old son.

In spite of the challenges, though, she said seeing the new home together has her excited.

“Me and my husband are ready to move in tomorrow,” Sullivan said. “They say you start to see the light at the end of the tunnel and we’re finally starting to see it.”

After the exterior of the new homes are completed, Leckron said families will have the opportunity to customize some of the features, such as siding and countertops.

Families will pay the organization back for the homes without interest.

Scott Scaring, one of the house leaders and a construction manager for the Northwestern Indiana Habitat for Humanity, said working with the families was more rewarding than working in the private sector where he spent 38 years.

“These are families that are in need and in this particular situation, they lost everything,” Scaring said. “The people working understand they’re not getting anything out of it other than their own sweat equity.”

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