Tornado recovery now focuses on rebuilding, healing

April 6, 2012

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – The work of volunteers in southern Indiana communities torn apart by March tornadoes has shifted in emphasis from picking up the pieces to rebuilding homes and repairing lives.

People with construction skills and the ability to manage the case work are among those who will be needed to help communities return to normal through long-term recovery, said Steve Cain, Purdue Extension disaster specialist and president of Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster, a multi-organization network of people who respond to disasters. As president of VOAD, Cain coordinated the efforts of thousands of short-term recovery volunteers.

"Southern Indiana counties are pushing on to recovery," Cain said. "That will include fixing up and rebuilding."

A committee, called March2Recovery, has been organized to coordinate the long-term recovery efforts, which will involve managing volunteers, construction and donations, among other needs. Cain will serve as a consultant in this effort.

"Through this committee, the communities have identified their leaders to oversee the recovery effort," Cain said. "Going forward, there is still needed help, which includes professionals from the region who can be trained to assist with case management and construction management, and volunteers who are willing to help oversee building projects."

Residents who lost family, friends, pets, homes and possessions also need the services of spiritual and emotional caregivers as part of the healing, and farmers with damage to their land will be included in recovery efforts.  

Cain said he appreciated the work of volunteers who helped with cleanup after the March 2 tornadoes, which killed 13 people and destroyed or damaged hundreds of homes, businesses and schools. He estimated that volunteer hours so far have exceeded 6,000 days of work in the short-term cleanup. Cain valued their work at $1.5 million.

While cleanup was the goal of the short-term recovery, safety is always key, Cain said.

"Thus far, we have had only one injury among VOAD volunteers - one person suffered a scratch on a finger," he said. "We are extremely happy that we had no major injuries; however, we still have a long way to go."

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Writer: Keith Robinson, 765-494-2722,

Source: Steve Cain, 765-427-8881 (cell),

Ag Communications: (765) 494-2722;
Keith Robinson,
Agriculture News Page