After tornado, IN still stunned

The clocks in what is left of Patricia Titzer's home are all stopped at 2:03 - the exact time when an F3 tornado tore into her home.

BY HEATHER MOYER | EVANSVILLE, Ind. | November 13, 2005

"We're doing just about anything we can."

—Sharon Henshaw

The clocks in what is left of Patricia Titzer's home are all stopped at 2:03 - the exact time when an F3 tornado tore into her home.

Early last Sunday morning, Titzer and her husband were sitting in their living room when she got up to use the restroom.

"When I came out, I saw things swirling," she said. "My husband grabbed me and yelled, 'get down!' And we ran into my daughter's bedroom with our kids. It sounded like a freight train. Things were swirling, we heard crashing."

Now a week after that frightening night, Titzer and her family stood in their yard. The front half of their home is ripped away allowing a free view into their living room. And where Titzer sat before using the restroom sits a beam from the roof. "That beam fell right where my head had been before I got up."

Titzer's 10-year-old son was injured when a window frame hit him in the back. He required stitches but is doing well, she said.

The rest of the neighborhood is in shambles after the deadly tornado. Many homes are completely destroyed, some are missing roofs, cars are smashed and trees are stripped or snapped in half. Sunday morning's tornado tore a 41-mile path of destruction through northern Kentucky and southern Indiana. The death toll has now reached 24.

Yet some hope and comfort are springing up throughout the rubble. As Titzer and her family paused from picking up debris, members of Epworth United Methodist Church (EUMC) were driving through the neighborhood handing out warm meals prepared by volunteers.

EUMC has been a relief station since light dawned on Evansville last Sunday, said Sharon Henshaw. "We've been handing out food, water and clothes," said Henshaw, an EUMC member. "We're also preparing meals to send out and we're sending out work crews, too. We're doing just about anything we can."

Henshaw said the week has been very tiring and that she's happy so many other churches and volunteers are stepping in to help out now. Back at EUMC, Henshaw is a "jill-of-all-trades" answering phones, sorting donations, fixing meals and more. A team of EUMC members is doing the same, as are volunteers from within the community. The church is grateful for the help, many of whom are college students from the University of Evansville.

"We've had quite the range of people helping out," she said. "It takes the whole community to do this - if you call, we'll find a job for you."

Over in EUMC's fellowship-hall-turned-relief-center, volunteers Kristen Mason and Kristen Schubert are sorting donated supplies. "We just wanted to help," said Schubert. The two were moving donated toiletries as Angela Sharp helped move a box of donated backpacks.

"It's phenomenal what people are doing for each other," said Sharp, an EUMC member. "It just makes you want to cry sometimes, people who don't have much are giving all they can."

Henshaw is a life-long resident of Evansville and said she's never seen destruction like what last week's tornado caused. She calls it shocking and sad and said EUMC will be there as long as it takes the residents to recover.

Back over in Titzer's neighborhood, flames and smoke are rising from a pile of debris. In front of the pile is a gaping hole where a home once stood. It was bull-dozed earlier in the day. Next door sits another home in ruins. The front is mostly blown out and a large section of roof has crushed two cars in the driveway. The Marx family had been sleeping moments before the tornado came through, and they credit their son for waking them in time.

"He called to tell us to get into the basement immediately," said Kenny Marx. "My wife made it down into the basement and I was helping her mother get down there. We were on the first step when the lights went out and we heard glass breaking. I could feel the air pressure change - my ears popped."

His family is now split up amongst the homes of three other friends and family members to live in the meantime.

Along Marx's street, neighbors are on rooftops patching holes. Others are cutting up down trees. Still others are sifting through what remains of their shattered homes. As the EUMC volunteers hand out the warm meals, Henshaw said her church may be small - but they can still do a lot for the community.

"We're big enough to serve and small enough to care."

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