Clean-up follows tornado

IUS Horizon

Chris Noonan, criminal justice junior, has been volunteering in Henryville since the tornado hit, in what he said was an organized disaster.

Noonan was in Charlestown when the tornado happened and said he could see the huge funnel as it hit Henryville.

“When I heard the high school was hit, my heart sank,” Noonan said. “I heard 30 to 40 students were still in the high school, and I was shocked. That sums up my emotions before I got there.”

He has been volunteering with the American Legion and venture crew, which is a branch of Boy Scouts that is based in Sellersburg, Ind.

“I’m volunteering until 8 or 9 at night,” Noonan said. “Working third shift, taking care of my mom and going to class,” Noonan said.

Recently, Noonan has been volunteering with a team of 20 to 25 people on Henryville Otisco Road.

“As I got toward the city, it looked like a bomb went off,” Noonan said. “It was nothing like I’d ever seen before. Almost every house had an ‘X’ on it. That was really freaky to see.”

Noonan described the disaster area as a scene of tangled trees, mangled cars, demolished homes and mosh pits of burning piles.

“It looked like a war zone,” Noonan said. “There were burning piles everywhere of things people couldn’t salvage. ”

The people on Henryville Otisco Road were advised to wear masks to avoid safety hazards from the fumes.

“I started to get numb to it after seeing it for so long and helping there constantly,” Noonan said. “It’s never going to be the same.”

Upon entering the Henryville disaster area, Noonan said he believed he had no direct relationships with any of the Henryville residents.

“Some people I was helping were related to a friend of mine, Krista Jefferson, that moved away,” Noonan said. “Her brother, Jacob Jefferson, said ‘Hey, I remember you.’ Unknowingly, I had friends there.”

Noonan participated in collecting food and clothing donations. It was a process of taking in items and then organizing them.

“It was organized, but it was organized chaos,” Noonan said. “I had never seen so many clothes in my life. It goes to show how we all come together in a disaster like this.”

Justin Schladen, a friend of Noonan’s who has volunteered with him in Henryville, commented on the morale of the Henryville residents.

“We’ve all come together as one big family,” Schladen said. “We’ve been helping out everyone as one community, to pull through and rebuild.”