The Henryville school complex heavily damaged by tornadoes that ripped southern Indiana in March has been repaired and is ready to open with the new school year.
The heart of the community has been rebuilt, though signs of the tornado remain five months later, RTV6's Chance Walser reported.
Third-grader Kayla Sheppard and her mother were among those touring her school months after the storm all but blew it down.
"Back like its old self -- looks new, looks like its old self," Sheppard said.
Restoring the building was no small undertaking. As students and parents filled the halls Sunday, many thanked members of the construction crew that promised in March to have the school ready for the first day of classes.
"When I looked at this one, I said it looks a lot worse than it really is, and we made a commitment," said Rob Robbins, project manager for Belfor. "Belfor made a commitment to the school board that we would have them back in school when they were ready to start in August of this year."
A gym that was dramatically swept away by ferocious winds bears no scars from the battle now. Walls that crumbled, buses and cars that crashed into the building and debris that contorted into the structure at the mercy of the storm have been made whole.
Like many small communities, the school is the center of Henryville.
"Every school is the cornerstone of most communities in Indiana, and we have a lot of pride in that," said Troy Albert, principal of Henryville High School. "Bringing kids back to school on our school grounds and ready to go back to work is what it's all about."
Albert said most of the funding for repair work came from insurance. The school district is reviewing and hoping to improve its evacuation plan, particularly for students and staff who may be on the second floor when a storm approaches.
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