- Associated Press - Monday, March 3, 2014

MARYSVILLE, Ind. (AP) - After a series of tornadoes stuck southern Indiana in 2012, many thought the damage was so severe that the heavily hit community of Marysville would become only a memory.

But, in the storm’s aftermath, residents of the resilient northern Clark County community and volunteers from around the region came together to rebuild the area, including Marysville’s most iconic structure, a 1937 school building turned community center.

Only days before the two-year anniversary of the tornado, the Marysville Community Center, which had once served as the setting of weddings, birthday parties, baby showers and funeral services since 1973, was once again the setting of a social gathering - its own rededication ceremony.

The red-brick brick building nearly overflowed with community members and supporters who wanted to be part of Saturday’s ceremony, which marked the completion of the building’s restoration after tornado winds removed its roof, and subsequent rain destroyed its floor and walls, the News and Tribune reported (https://bit.ly/1kNp3iY ).

The building’s rededication was proof to Marysville-native Chris Gilbert, 38, and others, that the tornado may have destroyed buildings, but not the spirit of the close-knit community.

The Gilbert family lost its Marysville home, only blocks away from the community center, when the tornado swept through the area March 2, 2012.

For, Gilbert, the destruction of the family’s homestead, where his parent’s lived at the time of the tornado, raised fears that his three daughters wouldn’t have a connection with the community that generations of Gilberts have called home.

“Our family came to the area on a train, and they got off the train right in front of the house,” he said. “The Gilberts have been here for a long, long time. We have pictures with horse-drawn carriages in front of the home.”

While the house was lost, and Gilbert and his family reside in Jeffersonville, he said the survival of the Marysville church and the community center will foster a sense of community for his children.

But, before renovation efforts of the community center began, nearly six months after the tornado tore through town, it was uncertain if the nearly 80-year-old building or the community would endure the storms.

“Everybody in the community, at the time, really felt that if we can keep this (the community center) consistent, it is going to show there needs to be a community here because everybody was talking about Marysville was wiped out, that it’s all gone,” Gilbert said.

Gilbert said he is thankful to everyone who helped in the rebuilding efforts that not only repaired roofs and floorboards, but the spirit of area residents.

“Being at the age that I am, and as I get older, I want my kids to know where I am from, and being able to drive through and have the town still be here is very important,” Gilbert said. “I attribute what has made (my family) successful in our day-to-day back to this place. You can’t put it into words what it means to be able to say, ‘This is where I learned that life lesson,’ and it is all over this place up here.”

One of the most significant sources of volunteer efforts after the storm came from the organization March2Recovery, which worked not only in Marysville, but other communities damaged by the tornadoes.

“I am amazed at how many people are here today. I think that shows how important this building is to the community,” said March2Recovery organizer Dave Poe, who led renovation efforts at the site.

Poe said when rebuilding efforts began in August 2012, a crane was needed to remove debris from the roof that had been torn off and boards had to be put up where windows had been broken out.

“It is just a remarkable transformation,” Poe said of the renovation that had made every part of the building appear completely new and unblemished, except for the rustic brick facade.

Before the formal portion of the ceremony come to a close, a $11,500 check was presented by Metro United Way that will go toward a playground near the building.

Oregon Township Trustee William Bussey said the community center is in its best condition ever since the renovation and that it is a “big relief” to have the project completed.

Bussey said the restored building can now again be a resource to community members, but also to new residents that will move to Marysville as Clark County continues to grow.

“If you look around you can see what it means to the people that this many people showed up today,” he said. “It shows you that they appreciate the community center being here.”


Information from: News and Tribune, Jeffersonville, Ind., https://www.newsandtribune.com

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