Sunday, March 11, 2012
On April 3, 1974, a swarm of tornadoes hit in and around the town of Madison, Indiana, where Shawny grew up. Shawny and her sister Shelly were at swim practice when the tornado hit so they rode out the storm in the locker room with their teammates. Their mother, Jan, was at the elementary school where she taught and their father, Myrwin "Red" Anderson, was at a different elementary school where he served as principal. The other three Anderson kids were away in college. Red's school (pictured above after the tornado -- click to enlarge) was then called Michigan Road Elementary; it was completely destroyed. The school was later rebuilt and expanded and, in 1989, was re-named Anderson Elementary School, after Shawny's dad.
11 people died in Madison due to the tornado that day and 190 more were hospitalized. The Andersons and their home were all okay. Most of the family's efforts, then, centered around the destroyed school and all of the tasks required to rebuild it.
The first task was to sort through the rubble and debris to salvage anything that could be reused by students as they relocated to a different building to complete the school year. Fortunately, the Andersons had the help of their oldest daughter, Sherry, who hurried down from Ball State University with as many of her fellow students as she could muster. Those college students worked side-by-side with the Andersons to get the new school organized as quickly as possible.
Now, 38 years later, another swarm of tornadoes has struck the area, sparing Madison itself, but devastating farms and homes throughout Jefferson County and beyond.
And so, it is time for another group of college students to repay the favor of those Ball State students from decades ago.
Please wish us well.
[The black and white images above and in the background were taken by aerial photographer Jim Pirtle of Madison. They are posted on a website focused on the 1974 "super swarm": http://www.april31974.com/indiana_tornado_data.htm]