Indiana town reborn after tornado

April 21, 2009 8:57:25 PM PDT
Last August, a tornado devastated parts of Griffith, Indiana. Dozens of homes were damaged, many left unlivable. But after months of rebuilding, the town of Griffith and its residents are starting to get back to a more normal life.

Nearly nine months since a tornado devastated Griffith, Indiana and the town has practically been reborn.

When we last saw James Guevara, his home was spray-painted with the words 'we will return.'

On Tuesday, there's a bay window in that spot and the house is bigger and better than before.

"Setbacks they come and go, you just gotta, what they say, go five yards back and punt, you know. That's basically been my motto," said James Guevara, tornado survivor.

You'd hardly know now that on last August 4 last year a category EF2 tornado destroyed 16 homes and severely damaged 120 others.

It nearly killed Elaine Jelenski and her son, Ryan.

"We got the most important thing out of the house, which was my son. So I'm seeing the light, there is light at the end of the tunnel, yes," said Elaine Jelenski.

On Tuesday, the Jelenskis are the only Griffith family still living in a hotel. They should be back soon after their insurance company spent $250,000 to rebuild their home.

The lesson fron this ordeal? Priceless.

"Don't take anything for granted because what you have one day can be gone in an instant," said Jeff Jelenski.

The one sore spot for the town is this strip mall. It remains practically untouched. The owners are being taken to court and the city says it may have to be condemned.

But even so, village president Rick Ryfa says Griffith is about 98 percent back to where it was. Not one person affected by the tornado decided to move away.

"I think time has healed the wounds and we're moving forward and we will continue to move forward," said Ryfa, Griffith Council president.

Tattered tree tops still give away that something major happened here. But nearly nine months later, the healing is almost complete.


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