Half of the town’s water tower was gone, houses were in pieces, and rubble dotted the landscape in Henryville.
Maconaquah High School sophomore Alyssa Shields couldn’t believe what the storm-ravaged town looked like more than a month after a tornado hit.
“Pictures don’t describe how devastating it was,” she said. “They don’t do it justice.”
Shields joined other Maconaquah students and staff members Saturday in a trek to Henryville to deliver aid — in the form of a $20,000 check.
As a Key Club member, Shields helped launch a district-wide fundraiser in March to support Henryville schools.
The goal was to raise $5,000, so Superintendent Doug Arnold would shave his head. Maconaquah School Corp. exceeded its goal by raising $10,000. Then, the South Miami County Kiwannis Club matched that.
The money was donated Saturday to West Clark Community Schools. Several of its buildings were destroyed during the storm.
Shields said that as she rode through town, it was obvious how much the area needed help.
“There were places where there were foundations where restaurants used to be, but are gone now,” she said. “It was very surreal.”
Residents worked Saturday to repair homes and clean up debris. Shields said she was impressed by their dedication and commitment.
“It’s not looking as bad as it once did,” she said. “It was nice to see the communities come together to put the town back together.”
Arnold said the community was working especially hard to rebuild the schools that were destroyed. He said contractors are working six and sometimes seven days a week.
Shields toured Henryville High School and saw the remnants of the old building and the first pieces of the new one.
Whole offices and classrooms were gone, but contractors had already raised the first wall of the new gymnasium, she said.
Shields hopes that Maconaquah’s donation can help in some way. She knows district officials appreciated the gift.
“To see them smile and to see them be as kind-hearted as they were when they really don’t have anything at all is amazing,” Shields said.
Arnold said Maconaquah’s gift wasn’t the only one the West Clark Schools received.
“They had a pretty overwhelming response,” he said. “There are so many schools, so many clubs that are concerned about Henryville.”
West Clark Superintendent Monty Schneider couldn’t be reached for comment, but he echoed similar sentiments to the News and Tribune following Maconaquah’s visit.
He said the district had received donations from around the country.
“It’s still continuing,” he told the Jeffersonville newspaper. “We’re surprised daily. Insurance never takes care of everything. [These donations will] help to make us whole again, if not better.”
Schneider did not indicate to the News and Tribune what Maconaquah’s donation will be used for.
“They can use it any way they want,” said Arnold.
• Lindsey Ziliak, Tribune education reporter, may be reached at 765-454-8585 or email@example.com.