Goshen News, Goshen, IN

Local News

November 18, 2012

GHS teens spend part of their fall break aiding tornado-ravaged town

GOSHEN — Seven months after an F4 tornado destroyed most of the small southern Indiana town of Henryville, work is still being done to repair the havoc nature wrought.

The residents recently had some help from a group of Goshen High School students.

Kaylee Shepherd said students were mainly from FCA, Key Club and Building Trades, but it was open to anyone.

“I wanted to go see all the damage and help,” Kaylee said.

She, Gale Immel and Aimee Swihart were among the students who gave up about half of their weeklong fall break in October to help.

“I enjoy just doing any type of service stuff,” Aimee said.

Gale, no stranger to disaster areas, wanted to go and help. She had previously done service work in New Orleans after it was struck by Hurricane Katrina.

“The (Henryville) high school got rebuilt and it was destroyed completely,” Gale said. She heard it was rebuilt in four months.

Aimee said she was amazed at how much had been accomplished but there was so much debris still on the ground.

Kaylee said they were told more than a million people came to help from all over the United States and from as far away as Russia.

A group of about 20 workers from the University of Tennessee was there at the same time as Goshen. And still more people were coming in to help, Aimee said. Many worked three-day stints, like Goshen.

The Goshen students were divided into different groups to work on separate projects. Some of the guys rebuilt a porch. Most of the students’ time was spent helping sort bricks — red from orange. The red bricks were going to be saved and reused.

They also sorted books — “lots of them,” Kaylee said.

There was an entire warehouse of school supplies and books that people had donated to Henryville.

“Some were used and ones that wouldn’t be read anymore,” Gale said, later adding, “The guy sorting books was glad to get us because we knew what books people our age would like.”

After returning home, the man they worked with sent them thank you notes — “not that we needed the thanks, but it was nice,” Aimee said.

But thanks was plentiful and sincere from the residents of Henryville.

“They kept saying thank-you and we hadn’t done anything yet,” Aimee said.

Kaylee said, “They were probably tired of saying thank-you, but they didn’t give up.”

“It’s cool to say they didn’t give up and give into depression,” Aimee said.

The students also got a chance to know each other better. “We had a blast,” Aimee said.

All three agreed they would volunteer again in a heartbeat.

“I wouldn’t have to think about it,” Aimee said.

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