Henryville church offers hope to tornado victims


by WHAS11


Posted on March 6, 2012 at 2:39 PM

HENRYVILLE, Ind. (WHAS11) -- A church in Henryville is offering the victims of Friday’s tornadoes a sign of hope. It was one of the few buildings at ground zero to stay intact.

St. Francis Xavier Parish is offering food and comfort until Henryville and the other affected areas get back to some sort of normalcy.

There is very little that can prepare people for an EF-4 tornado to barrel through a town like the one that did Fri. in Henryville, Ind.

"I thought a train was coming, it was loud,” said Danny O’ Shea, who witnessed from a basement window the tornado pass by him. “There was debris all over. I saw the sky line peeling up. I got the I-Pod out and I saw it start tearing the town a part."

When the storm passed, nobody expected it to leave as much damage as it did.

"It’s total devastation,” said Jeanette Robertson of Henryville. “It’s just unbelievable."

Robertson was in Henryville High School when the tornado hit. Now, much of the school has been destroyed like the rest of the town.

"Everything around us was demolished, but right where we were was completely safe. No ceiling tiles fell, no nothing,” said Robertson. “It’s a miracle.”

With Henryville in ruins, St. Francis Xavier Parish remains almost unscathed near ground zero; standing as a sense of hope for the town.

"God blessed us for a purpose we believe,” said Father Steven Schaftlein, the pastor of St. Francis Xavier Parish. “We’re right next door to ground zero and we're intact. And we talk about reaching out to people; God has provided us by preserving us, the opportunity to do that."

At the parish, food, water and clothing were offered to the victims in need.

"I am amazed at all the volunteers that come in from everywhere and have donated their services and their time, everybody cooking food for us,” said Robertson. “It just makes you believe in life again."

The church had no electric or lighting, yet a community came there Sunday to pray and gather together.

Father Schaftlein says the supplies they have should last for a few days, but eventually they will run out and will need more donations for the long term.