“A Ride Thru Hell”


As I sit here looking thru the images of a beautiful little two week old newborn girl that I just shot tonight I couldn’t help but feel guilty about the events of the last few days around my hometown of Madison Indiana.

Watching the parents of the little girl and the joy of their firstborn child in their arms was a wonderful sight,after all the chaos and tragedy people in our area have witnessed it was great to see something beautiful for a change, but still after returning home and watching the news and then after my trek this past weekend  thru the war zone nature brought to Southern Indiana I still couldn’t escape the feeling of guilt of making it thru unscathed while so many suffered…I don’t know if that makes sense but thats kinda the feeling I have now.

I decided,with a lot of trepidation, to travel the path of the storm as best I could to my sisters house in Henryville. I knew my sister had survived the storm with little damage(her daughter wasn’t quite as lucky but they weren’t hurt) I also took my camera…not because I wanted to but because I was pulled by some macabre sense to record history or any other reason I could justify to myself why I should be photographing someone else’s misery.

From the time I arrived in the Chelsea you could tell that all the horrific pics that we had seen in the media coverage didn’t give you a scale of the true carnage that one of these monster storms can do. One of the first things that stood out when we got there was looking out into the vast cornfields that surround the southwestern part of our county were actually scarred by the cyclonic winds, I mean like a giant bulldozer came thru and took what looks like the first few inches of soil off the fields, you can actually follow the track of the storm .

This is a very rural area, mostly trees and fields, the force of the storm turned huge stands of decades old hardwood trees into a landscape of anarchy and mystery. While peering into the crushed stands of trees one could only wonder why these stand of trees were all laying flat in one direction and then just a few feet away another huge stand would be flattened into another direction,  the mysteries of these super storms never cease to amaze me.

It was at this juncture that we came across some of the first property damage, the first house had a roof torn off and then after traveling a few more yards it was like a bomb had went off, two or three homes had been completely wiped off their foundations and lay in piles of debris a few hundred yards downwind form the storms path, anything left standing was covered in corn husks and sheetmetal  like some kinda of a strange art exhibit.

It was in this area that four lives were lost in our county, more were actually killed here then in Henryville that had so much more damage and a much larger population density, just another one of the many mysteries that are associated with these powerful storms.

I continued the drive to my sisters house down what is called Nabb Road, what was left of it, at this point it seems the super storm cuts it’s path of destruction right down the middle of this highway destroying everything on both sides of the road. It was here that most of the images I captured came from, we weren’t just seeing the destruction we were driving right thru it !!

As I shot frame after frame along this Road of Hell I became more and more uncomfortable, I watched the inhabitants of this tragedy picking thru what was left of their life’s and here I was trolling around in my SUV like some kinda of photo journalist. At this point the urge to stay and shoot was overtaken by the feeling of guilt and my need to find y sister and her family and make sure she was alright.

After traveling a few more miles we drove by the small town of Marysville, another small town nearly wiped from the map, this time we slowly drove past I never raised my camera we never said a word. Most of the roads leading into Henryville were closed and protected by State Police or the National Guard but I did know a way into close to where my sister lived, we found our way to her drive way,with house in tack I looked into the doors and windows of her house and not finding anyone home, knowing that she wasn’t hurt I figured she was probably out helping someone else in her community, which she was, so we decided to head back home.

We choose another route home not wanting to witness the destruction again, just driving thru the path of the Tornado was devastating enough now can you imagine living thru it.

Typically when I shoot I may knock off 500 or 600 images, on this day I could only shoot 167 and out of that I will only share a few the rest will stay here on my hard-drive, there has been enough of these survivors misery shared with the public and this is all of it I am going to share.

 

                                                                                                                                           

 

                                                                                                                                                 

Advertisements

5 thoughts on ““A Ride Thru Hell”

  1. BoJo Photo

    Man Bernie, my heart goes out to you and your area. My area was hit yet again the other day. Just as I was about to leave Monteagle, Tennessee and head home sirens sounded delaying my departure for an hour which was a good thing as Chattanooga was getting hit as I would have been driving through it if not for the siren. It is so sad to see so many left in devastation.

    Reply
    1. BoJo Photo

      You are right in that people’s feelings are first and foremost. I accidentally made a wrong turn and was forced to drive through the wreckage of Ringgold, Georgia last year while trying to go around a traffic jam. A few years ago it might have been a good thing for people to see storm images as a warning of what is possible but now that there are so many storms, who needs any more images? The only photographer I saw was a professional that I’m sure worked for news agencies. I’m like you, I prefer to leave people alone in their grief as I sure would want to be left alone and not have someone pointing a camera at me. If I was going to take pictures it would be where there were no victims around.

      Reply
  2. Jim

    Bernie, I understand your mixed feelings about shooting this, but from where I’m sitting what you were doing here was photojournalism. There was a story here, and you went in and told it.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s