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November 17, 2012

Putting heart into a new home

Henryville family say adjustments to new life will take time

HENRYVILLE — We Survived: A Hopeful Spirit after the Storm

Trish Gilles sat curled up on her new white sofa, carefully guarding her left hip from pressure. Just the week before, Trish endured what she hopes to be the last surgery related to injuries sustained in the Henryville tornado.

During the interview, Trish was not her typical upbeat self, instead revealing a significantly more pensive side of her personality. This is the last interview in the follow-up series, “We Survived: A Hopeful Spirit after the Storm,” although there are plans to catch up with the Gilles family at the tornado’s one-year mark.

Darrell sat on the floor, leaning his arms on the coffee table as he listened to his wife of 14 years talk about their new home and life in recovery after March 2.  

‘CHALLENGE AND CHANGE’

The Gilles boys (Caleb, now age 12 and Collin, now 11) were in the basement playing video games, while 9-year-old Mia fidgeted on the couch next to her mother. The family moved into their new home Sept. 21 and immediately welcomed friends and family back to the same location where their first home stood. Driving down the gravel road to the Gilles home for the first time is a bit eerie, as large mounds of wood, dirt and debris remain on both sides of the road.

The mounds are the remnants of the Gilles’ previous home and until they can be removed, stand as a constant reminder of their lives before March 2. The mounds contain the only home known to the Gilles children and the one where Trish and Darrell first became an independent married couple. Trish was clearly happy in that home filled with cherished memories. She spends time now wondering if anything will ever be the same and most days she is sure it will not.  

The EF-4 tornado charged into the Gilles’ home nearly eight months ago and each of the children have since celebrated their birthdays and countless major changes in their lives. While Trish and Darrell are grateful and fully aware of the significance of each child celebrating another birthday, they both wonder if life for them will ever settle into a comfortable pattern.  

“You see, these kids have had to really grow up quickly,” Darrell explained. “They saw things they never should have had to see and have come through it all with strength and resilience.” Trish adds, “The words we use to describe our lives now are challenge and change.”

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Students who attended the Renaissance Academy's Culture Camp lead other students in an exercise, brainstorming thoughts, fears and opinions of the new learning style and school. The Academy is largely based on projects, working in groups and hands-on education.

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