Rad A. Drew Photography: March 2012

Continental Divide at Dawn

Continental Divide at Dawn
Continental Divide at Dawn

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

On March 2, 2012, two deadly tornadoes ripped through the southern Indiana community of Henryville, all but destroying the town of just under 2000 residents. Five weeks after the storms devastated this community, I had the opportunity to visit the area with my friend, journalist, and fellow photographer, Eric DiBlasi, Editor, Reporter, and Photographer for the Jackson County Banner in Seymour, Indiana. Having seen and heard about the storms on the news, I thought I was prepared for what awaited me there, but I was sorely mistaken. Never have I personally seen such devastation over such a wide area affecting so many. Eric and I spent the day, with Eric's friend, Rikki Grant-Gobble, as our "guide." Rikki, who is a manager with Taco Bell, had spent many of the days since the storms providing free food and drink courtesy of Taco Bell to local residents and volunteers. Here are just some of the photographs I took on Sunday. I'll be posting more as I get them processed. --Rad

Below, Rikki Grant-Gobble (left) stands side-by-side with area resident Kevin Bridges, who lost three homes along the ridge overlooking the town below. His mother, 86, weathered the storm in the basement of their home on the ridge. She was not hurt, but is temporarily living elsewhere while her home is restored to living condition.

Nothing remains but the foundation of this home along the ridge line. The surrounding trees, mostly twisted, shredded, and broken, are strewn all around. Residents we spoke with had high praise for power workers who restored electricity to the area within about three days; no small feat considering nearly all the poles had been snapped in half.

The remains of this home are adorned with the American flag, as were many of the rubble piles throughout town.

The top level of this home on the ridge is completely gone while portions of the lower level which was built into the hillside remain. Notice the orange cat in the driveway. This is one of two cats at this location that appeared to be displaced.

While shooting in town, we met the owner of this red barn on the edge of town. He invited us to photograph the site. The top level of this two story structure has collapsed onto the ground, spewing many of the contents into the field.

A closer look inside this barn reveals a vast array of antiques and oddities, including the surreal Richard Nixon mask dangling from a chair leg.

This doorway is all that remains of this home along the ridge overlooking Henryville in the background.

Strewn among the debris, the New Testament is an artifact meaningful to many here.

In another pile, this headless statue sat comfortably, seemingly unaware that he'd lost his head!

 Moments later, we discovered his head a little deeper in the pile.

 This statue of the Virgin Mary seems to be offering a prayer as cleanup efforts proceed all around.

Seeing flags draped everywhere gave the area the eery feeling of being war-torn; the devastation, I can only imagine, is similar.

In early days after the storms, volunteers (many of them children) collected stuffed animals and toys that were scattered around the area. Efforts were made to reunite the toys with their owners. This doll, I'm afraid, will not be going home.

This image shows the destruction that occurred along the ridge above town. The homes that remain along the ridge in the background are severely damaged. Little of the timber was salvageable because it was twisted by the tornadoes and ruined for use as lumber.