Calling all tarps! With rain forecast, Henryville disaster center says bring them now


by Joe Arnold

Posted on March 7, 2012 at 7:37 PM

Updated Thursday, Mar 8 at 1:29 AM

HENRYVILLE, Ind. (WHAS11) -- At the crossroads of Henryville, St. Francis Xavier Church has become the nerve center for the town's homegrown disaster relief.

"We just happen to be at ground zero at the crossroads," said Rev. Steve Schaftlein, the church's pastor.  "And, so as an information point, we're able to do that.

The church basement is open as a large food pantry for tornado victims to take what they need.  The church sanctuary, each pew once filled with clothes, is being cleared to make room for counseling, disaster information and prayer.

Ahead of rain forecast for Thursday, disaster volunteers spent much of Wednesday hauling hundreds of bags and boxes of clothing to other charity locations and to a lumber company warehouse.

The wet weather intensified the church's call for tarp donations. 

While Indiana authorities have encouraged those interested in making disaster donations to visit a Charlestown distribution center, Schaftlein said he would welcome direct shipments to the church for the items they need the most, especially tarps.

A 6pm-6am curfew remains in effect in Henryville.

Other items on the church's wish list include clean-up materials such as cleansers, brooms, rakes, shovels and trash bags, and totes.

Click here for the wish list compiled by the disaster relief team at St. Francis Xavier Church.

After an initial supply of an estimated 1000 plastic tote containers was depleted, only cardboard boxes were available in the church parking lot for tornado victims to use as they salvaged items from their homes.

On Wednesday, the City of Jeffersontown, Kentucky addressed that need, directly.  The city's public works department and mayor delivered three truckloads of curbside recycling containers.  In all, about 1,000 of the hard plastic bins and as many lids as they could find.

"After (WHAS11) told us that these people had cardboard that they were making boxes out of, they needed the totes," said Jeffersontown Mayor Bill Dieruf.  "We did it fast because we understand the rain's coming in and all the people's perishables will be gone by that time.  They can put them in here."

After the city council freed the containers for the donation by officially declaring them as "junk" at a Monday city council meeting, the public works crews pressure washed them before delivery to the disaster zone.

In recent years, Jeffersontown has replaced its curbside totes with full-size trash cans to be used for recycling materials.

It was the Jeffersontown delegation's first look at the aftermath of the Henryville tornadoes.

"When we come in.. you see it on TV but until you live it this is devastation at its worst," said Jimmy Franconia, Jeffersontown's Public Works Director.  "You can never imagine and it brings tears to your eyes when you come up here.  When you see all these people up here helping, what a blessing."

Visit our Kentuckiana Tornado section for the latest photos, stories, news and info on how you can help after Friday's storms.