By JEROD CLAPP
HENRYVILLE — The house was a total loss as far as their insurance was concerned. And while Haley Huddleston said their new one is great, she still misses some of the nuances that made her old house home.
“The house is a lot different and it’s a lot better, it’s more up-to-date,” Huddleston, a freshman at Henryville Junior/Senior High School said. “I think it looks a lot nicer, but sometimes, you wish you could walk in and it be the way it was because there were so many memories.”
Huddleston and other students at the schools lost some of their prized possessions in the storms that decimated Henryville and surrounding areas on March 2, 2012. But they said other changes in their relationships and how they live are likely to have more lasting effects.
She said it’s the simple things she really misses. The family Christmas Tree always had its own spot and when she came home from school, she could hang her coat in a closet near the front door.
But she said those changes aren’t the most difficult to deal with. The belongings of her late grandparents were in the basement along with her old toys and baby clothes. She said her parents never had the chance to go through everything and keep what they really wanted. Water damage forced them to burn everything in the basement.
Hailee Craig, a fourth-grader at Henryville Elementary School, said she was huddled in principal Glenn Riggs’ office with other students when the tornado hit. She said her home was fine, but she lost her backpack. Even though it and some of its contents could be replaced, there were some cards she made for her grandmother that she never got to give to her.
“It was in the school and had a lot of stuff I really cared about it in it,” Craig said. “It had one of my music books that had a lot of my favorite songs in it.”
She said it also had something in there she never got to use. The school was going to put on a play, “Dig It.” The script was in her backpack, and she said she wishes they got to sing the songs in the play on stage.
Collin Gilles, another fourth-grader at the school, said even with the physical loss of his family’s home and the injuries his parents and siblings sustained, they’ve pulled together and recovered a lot with the help of others.
But some things are different.
Even though he and his brother Caleb had their differences about keeping their room clean, he misses sharing the space with him.
“I miss having to share a room with my brother,” Gilles said. “Even though he would make a big mess and I’d have to clean it, it was a lot of fun. When we shared a room, I wanted my own room, but now it’s kind of lonely in there. When we couldn’t sleep, we’d talk to each other, then I’d fall asleep in the middle of it.”
He said it’s nice having a new house and his own room some ways, especially since his brother is the only one who has to worry about his own messes.
But gains were also had out of the storm. Huddleston said her family is closer now and Craig said she and her grandmother have a much tighter relationship.
“I think me and my whole family will value family time more,” Huddleston said. “My mom was at work when it happened and I was in the basement with my brother and sister. My dad was at work but he has a shop right next to the house. I know it was killing my mom that she couldn’t be there; she tried to call and couldn’t get through.”
But one thing all three students said they’re looking forward to is the return of their families’ weekly dinner destination — Goodfellas Pizza.
Gilles said the whole community has pulled together with a new sense of togetherness, but he can’t wait for his favorite pizza joint to return.
“I think that the community is better,” Gilles said. “We trust each other a little bit more now, you see people helping each other out a lot. You didn’t really see a lot of that before the tornado. We lost Goodfellas. They’re rebuilding, and that means a lot to me.”