HENRYVILLE – Shaan Singh is back in business running a newly rebuilt convenience store and sandwich shop. A once-wrecked elementary and high school complex is back in session. Burgers and fried chicken are being served again at a popular restaurant that had a school bus tossed into its wall.
A year after a deadly twister wielding 175 mph winds smashed nearly everything in its path, signs of renewal are everywhere in Henryville. So are the scars.
Youll find them in roofs still covered with blue tarps, on vacant lots where houses once stood. Theyre on Singhs hands and arm and behind an ear, reminders of the shattered glass that flew as he and his employees hunkered down when the storm roared in last March 2.
But residents of Henryville and other small communities in the rural area about 20 miles north of Louisville, Ky., arent focusing on the outbreak of twisters that devastated southern Indiana and Kentucky, claiming 39 lives and damaging or destroying thousands of buildings.
Instead, theyre celebrating a remarkable rebirth, marking Saturdays anniversary with a mile-long parade in Henryville that will pay tribute to emergency and cleanup crews who came to the towns aid.
Its not going to be dwelling on what happened, said Mark Furnish, chief of the volunteer Monroe Township Fire Department. Its going to be more of talking about the present and moving forward.
The Henryville school complex, which took a hard hit as some students and staff hunkered inside, reopened just five months after the storm. Near the towns main intersection, a sign on a vacant lot signals the future return of a pizzeria.
Furnish said theyre all signs of the towns resilience and determination to recover from the storm, which caused an estimated $100 million in damage.
Sherman Sykes restaurant across from the school became a symbol of the storms destructive power. When he emerged from the basement that day, a school bus was sticking out of his eatery.
Insurance settlement covered about $5,000 of the $30,000 it cost to re-equip the eatery. One consolation was that they didnt have to pay for the buildings repairs. The construction company did the work for free because it used the restaurant as an office while rebuilding the school.
Sykes has changed his restaurants name from Budroes Family Restaurant to Budroes Bus Stop. Photos of the bus sticking out of his business are displayed throughout the eatery as a reminder.
You cant keep grieving over what you had and you lost, Sykes said while serving burgers and fried chicken during a recent rush. Youve got to say, Well I had it. Its gone. Well do it again.