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March 5, 2013

Almost like home: Henryville’s schools are close to normal a year after they were destroyed

HENRYVILLE — Light classical music played in his office, but Glenn Riggs could still hear teachers and fifth-graders getting ready for their trip to Junior Achievement Biztown in the room next door.

Laughter, learning, lessons — they were all just parts of a normal day at school.

But the remnants of the disaster that struck just a year ago remain with Riggs, the principal of Henryville Elementary School. Though much has come back, he said there are reminders of the deadly March 2, 2012, EF-4 tornado everywhere. 

For Riggs, a painting made for him by one of his employees that hung in his office for 25 years is gone forever, lost in the storm.

“[The tornado] is going to be a real tangible and emotional pivotal point in all or our lives for eternity, I would guess,” Riggs said. “This year has been a complete rebuilding process. Even though we got back into [the building] very quickly, we’ve been gradually putting the school together over the process of this year.”

He said while others in the school community continue to deal with loss, inside and outside the classroom, an overwhelming sense of gratitude resonates from everyone in the building, which saw no loss of life.

 

BACK IN SESSION

Mangled steel beams and entire portions of the building that were ripped open have gone back to the way they were before March 2, 2012. But Monty Schneider, superintendent at West Clark Community Schools, said there were a few upgrades made to the school while it was rebuilt.

He said Belfor, the restoration company that handled the schools’ repairs, was able to update the lighting and make certain elements of the structure, including the roof, more consistent through the school. He said they weren’t before because different parts of the building had been updated at different times over the years.

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