St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church has always been a gathering point for Henryville, never more so than now. Under a roof with a patched-up six-foot hole, dozens gathered Sunday not just to worship, but to check on neighbors and get updates on the devastation from the weekend’s tornadoes.

Along the Ohio River between Indiana and Kentucky, where small towns were nearly wiped from the map, the damage is clear from a trail of smashed homes, downed trees and lost lives. At least 37 people were killed in the storm system that struck Friday night and rescuers were still going door-to-door in rural areas to rule out more victims.

But the storms thrashed the conveniences of modern life, too: Cell phone signals were hard to find, email was hard to come by, electricity indefinitely interrupted. People went back to basics or got creative to learn about their loved ones and begin rebuilding.

“It’s horrible. It’s things you take for granted that aren’t there anymore,” said Jack Cleveland, 50, of Henryville, a Census Bureau worker.

In many cases, word-of-mouth is replacing the conversations that would usually happen by cell phone or e-mail.

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