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May 31, 2013

THE SOONER THE BETTER: Henryville residents hit the road today to help out tornado victims

HENRYVILLE —

Jennifer McConahay lost her home, and almost her life, when a violent tornado struck Henryville on March 2, 2012.

Today, she will depart for Oklahoma with a group to pay forward the relief help she received in the 2012 storm’s aftermath to those reeling from the much mightier tornado that touched ground in and around the Oklahoma City suburb of Moore on May 20.

“We lost everything,” McConahay said of the storm’s effect on her family. “Two cars. Two homes. Two minutes.”

McConahay not only lost her home, but another newer mobile home on her property that her family was waiting to move into after the spring ground dried.

She said she knows all too well the “shell-shocked feeling,” the people are now experiencing in the Sooner State. It’s the same feeling she felt while stepping from the rubble of Mount Moriah Church, where she and her son had sought refuge.

While the tornado was devastating for McConahay, from the storm she met a friend, Jennifer Corkum.

Corkum, a Scottsburg resident, wasn’t directly affected by the storm, but had made the 10-minute drive to Henryville afterward to help out however she could and found herself pulling people out of damaged houses.

“We met in the rubble. And, we just clicked.” McConahay said of the duo’s introduction.

Although they had not talked for several months, when television reports began to show the damage of the Oklahoma storm last week, the women were soon talking on the phone.

“I cried when I saw the live coverage. I had to turn it off,” Corkum said. “I said, ‘We are watching people die right now.’”

It wasn’t long after that that the woman formed Indiana Cares, an organization of area residents with the goal of responding to natural disasters around the country. While providing assistance to the Oklahoma EF-5 tornado victims will be the group’s first project, McConahay and Corkum said they received an extensive crash course in disaster relief following the March 2 tornadoes in Southern Indiana.

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5-year-old Nicholas Garrison is handed a lemon drop, while 6-year-old Thomas and 4-year-old Walker Sturgeon, try theirs at Schimpff's Confectionery Friday afternoon in Jeffersonville.

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