Homes abandoned after tornado left in legal limbo - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Homes abandoned after tornado left in legal limbo

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HENRYVILLE, Ind. (WDRB) -- The agency coordinating the recovery after last year's deadly Southern Indiana tornado, says it hopes to finish its work by the end of this year.

But some homes abandoned after the storm are in legal limbo, and may be community eyesores for a long time to come.

A loft of progress has been made here in Henryville. For example, this house has been rebuilt from the ground up. That's the good news. But right across the street, you can see the bad news. This home appears abandoned, and absolutely no work has been done.

Dan Zook is still working to remove debris from his property left behind by the storm. Today, he's clearing trees that the tornado ripped apart.

"I'm trying to cut them, drag them out. And I hope that I can still sell the logs."

Zook also worked hard to rebuild this rental property he owns on the main highway through town.

The problem is what's next door; an abandoned, boarded, eyesore.

"The houses look nice. The town's starting to look nice. And then you've got this place that's abandoned," said Zook.

No one knows how many abandoned properties there may be, We found two on this one street.

March 2 Recovery, which is coordinating the rebuilding, says, there's nothing it can do. In most cases, the owners, if they can be found, have not applied for help.

"They have to apply for FEMA, they have to be current on taxes, things like that," said March 2 Recovery Director Carolyn King.

"As of right now, our hands are basically tied," said Clark Co. Commissioner Jack Coffman.

Coffman says, for now, the county can only issue citations if a home is found to be a safety or health hazard.

Coffman says the county has purposely delayed filing condemnation suits to try and give storm victims more time to recover.

"We don't want to create any more burden for those people who are trying to do something, trying to get their properties cleaned up," he said.

Coffman says the county will revisit the issue early next year. In the meantime, all neighbors can do is contact county officials if they believe a home becomes a hazard.

"They may need to rattle a few cages and remind people it's still there and needs to be cleaned up," said King.

The bottom line, the process of either repairing or tearing down homes like this one is neither quick nor easy.

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