Six Months After Deadly Tornadoes, Communities Mark Milestones

Today marks six months from the day tornadoes tore through parts of Indiana and Kentucky, killing more than 30 and destroying buildings in their path. Churches in Kentucky, Indiana and Ohio are marking the milestone.

Jennifer Mills-Knutsen is the pastor at St. Luke’s United Church of Christ in Jeffersonville. She’s also involved with March2Recovery, the non-profit that was set up shortly after the storms. Mills-Knutsen says it’s clear that progress has been made in Indiana’s hardest-hit communities, like Marysville and Henryville, where the storm destroyed a school.

“But the reality is, this is going to take a long time to come back from these storms,” she said. “And we want people to know that we realize that they’re still struggling six months later and there’s still a lot of healing and a lot of rebuilding to go and we’re going to be here through it, and we’re going to be in prayer for them and we’re going to be caring for them until the end.”

Even though rebuilding has happened, and Henryville’s school is back in session, Mills-Knutsen says people in the most affected communities are still suffering psychological damage.

“We’re hearing a lot of reports of people having nightmares, people being afraid to go out in storms, people experiencing a lot of anxiety or panic attacks, being very attentive to the weather, afraid to leave home,” she said. “All these things are a normal part of having experienced such a trauma as riding through the tornado.

“Whether or not your home experienced damage, you are a trauma survivor.”

Mills-Knutsen says at 3 pm today, about the time the tornadoes hit Indiana, some congregations will observe a moment of silence. Then they’ll toll their bells six times to mark six months. About twenty congregations have told March2Recovery that they’ll participate. There will also be picnics and memorial events in Marysville and Henryville.

Erica Peterson

Erica Peterson reports on energy and the environment for WFPL.

@ericampeterson

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