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March 1, 2014

2 YEARS AFTER THE TORNADO: It’s been a long climb back for Southern Indiana communities



Nick Shelton, owner of Henryville Auto Service LLC & Towing, wasn’t able to get his business reopened until April 2013, more than a year after the storm flattened his building along U.S. 31. Shelton faults the county and state governments for the amount of time it took for him to get his shop back in business.

“Bureaucracy at the state, FEMA, Red Cross, and all them said they were here to help. They didn’t hardly help anybody,” Shelton said. “They were useless. The hoops and hurdles that the state and county governments made us jump through was absolutely ridiculous. It made it cost more money, and in a situation like that when something like that happens, they need to go back in and they need to have somebody in charge.”

Shelton said he was finally able to get in touch with someone with the ability to help him with the Indiana Department of Homeland Security. Had he not, the business might not have made it, he said.

“It almost shut me down,” he said.



In the days immediately following the tornadoes, Marysville Hardware served as a staging ground for the recovery effort in the unincorporated town. Owner J.R. Righthouse said he knows how lucky he is that the business his family has operated for more than a century wasn’t leveled.

“It was basically most of the town that was wiped away,” Righthouse said. “Part of it’s come back, and part of it hasn’t.”

The recovery is ongoing in Marysville, much as it is in Henryville. Today, the town will celebrate the rededication of its community center, thanks in part to the efforts of March2Recovery.

With the second anniversary of the tornadoes on Sunday, March2Recovery Executive Director Carolyn King believes that the physical effort to repair the damage that the storms left behind is coming to a close.

“I think [the affected communities] are pretty ready to move on,” King said. “The anniversary time will be difficult for people, particularly those that were directly hit, for years to come. People still talk about the 1973 tornado. If you were in that path, that’s still important. But I see people back into their homes.”

King sees the reopening of the Marysville Community Center as a milestone in the recovery effort.

“I think that’s kind of the last symbolic thing to open,” King said. “That community was so devastated that it’s very symbolic to them to have it restored.”

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