MARYSVILLE, Ind. – This tiny Indiana farm town has no mayor, no school and no shopping center. And after last week’s deadly tornadoes, it has virtually nowhere left to live.
Nearly every home in Marysville was destroyed or so badly damaged it will probably have to be torn down – a realization that raised an emotional question for people still gathering belongings from the debris: Is it worth rebuilding a place that has so little?
In some of the tiny communities smashed by the violent weather, the idea hangs in the air, raising doubts even among families who have lived in the same place for generations.
Before it was erased by the storm, Marysville had been a hub of farming activity in deep southern Indiana since the mid-1800s, with many sons working the same rows of corn and soybeans as their grandparents.
But as they surveyed the devastation, some townspeople concluded it would be easier to abandon the village and look for work in Louisville, Ky., 30 miles to the south.
“I think this community is pretty much gone. I don’t think anyone will rebuild. A lot of people had no insurance,” Scott Meadors said Sunday as he salvaged belongings from the storm’s aftermath.
Marysville’s younger people started to drift away from the town some time ago, pushed by tough economic times to commute to jobs closer to Louisville. The devastation left by the tornado now threatens to drive them off for good.
“Our hope is it doesn’t just become a name on a map,” said county Commissioner John Perkins. “We would hope that what was destroyed — and that’s most of it — can be rebuilt.”
Other nearby communities risked losing population, too.
In Chelsea, home to a few churches, a general store and a collection of far-flung farms, some had decided to move on. One was Erin Boyner, whose husband, John, was among four area people killed in the storm.
“She said she’d never come back. It’s something she never planned on: being 30 years old and widowed,” said Bruce Wilds, a family friend who had just found a few of her wedding photos in the ruins.