First responders reflect on 5 year annivesary of deadly tornado

First responders recall Henryville tornado

HENRYVILLE, Ind. (WHAS11) -- For Clark County Indiana Deputy Brian Lovins, Henryville is home.  It’s where he grew up and it’s where he’s raising his two teenage daughters.

It’s also where he patrols the streets, although five years ago he remembers a more chaotic scene.

“It’s just a lot to take in," he said.

On March 2, 2012, Henryville would be hit by an EF-4 tornado.

“It sounds like Hell on Earth is the way it really sounds like," Lovins said.

The instincts of the 23 year law enforcement veteran would kick in, but not before worrying about his two children who were on a bus heading home.

“I really had no idea where they were at.  I know the route the bus takes. It was almost the same path where the storm was coming through," he explained.

His daughters would be okay, making it to someone’s house. Sadly, many others would not be as fortunate that afternoon.  The tornado leveled homes and destroyed the cafeteria.  Wayne Hunter was Clark County’s only death that day.  He died while protecting his wife.

“Went into emergency mode, trying to figure out what was going on, trying to figure out where people may be," Lovins said.

Sgt. Brice Nicholas would head into work after hearing the tornado was making a beeline to the schools.  He didn’t make it there.  He was stopped by downed trees. "You start walking around and you start yelling and seeing if you get any response from somebody that needs help," Sgt. Nicholas said.

He managed to pull a man to safety.  The damage so widespread he and Lovins would spend the next two weeks helping others recover and rebuild.  “I got into this job to help people.  That was my bottom line.  Everybody told me you’re not going to make that much money as a police officer, it’s not about that,” he told WHAS11.

Now, the officers are focusing more on weather awareness, including monitoring on-air reports, phone apps and using weather radios.  “You make sure you check the news.  They say tornado watch or tornado warning, you pay a little more attention," Lovins said.

© 2017 WHAS-TV


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