Better Together Recovery Fund

On Memorial Day of 2019, a tornado cut a path through Pendleton, damaging 500 homes and toppling many hudreds of trees throughout the historic district and Falls Park. In the days following, South Madison Community Foundation was instrumental in convening, hosting, and facilitating a Long Term Recovery Group that would work for 18 months to assist residents in recovering from the lingering effects of the tornado. In this work, the Long Term Recovery Group:

  • Assisted with ongoing support of 160 Unmet Needs cases.
  • Developed relationships with United Way of Madison County (Community Organizations Active in Disaster), Madison County Emergency Management, Indiana Department of Homeland Security, and Indiana VOAD (Volunteer Organizations Active in Disaster). Relationships developed in these organizations have positioned the local community to best support citizens in future disasters, including the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Cooperated in the production of a guide to best practices for community recovery. 
  • Helped secure disaster funding and volunteer service from the Small Business Administration, Indiana Department of Homeland Security, the South Madison Community Foundation, United Way of Madison County (COAD), and many corporate neighbors and church groups.
  • "Pendleton Tree Recovery" project planted 300 new trees throughout residences and Falls Park. The project was a collaborative effort between the Foundation, Town of Pendleton, Indiana Department of Natural Resources, Pendleton Tree Commission, Falls Park, Friends of Falls Park, International Paper, and the Arbor Day Foundation. In the project, over 400 volunteers planted trees in one day.

Thanks to a generous $2 for $1 match offered during the tornado recovery timeline, donations made to the "Better Together Recovery Fund," an unrestricted endowment established at the Community Foundation, grants to the community will be made each year to the people, places, and projects that illustrate the community spirit evidenced during the tornado recovery.

Memorial Day Tornado Recovery Timeline


May 27 – Tornados hit Pendleton and South Madison County

May 27 – Community Organizations Active in Disaster (COAD) and Emergency Management Agency (EMA) response teams activated; more than 26 public safety agencies respond to immediate needs

May 29 - 450 volunteers deployed through Volunteer Action Center

June 2- June 8 – Volunteer chaplains trained in emotional first aid; Foundation, chaplains, and community volunteers design and staff “Heart and Soul” outreach during June Jamboree

June 12 – Indiana declaration of disaster makes disaster loan and grant funding possible

June 12 - Disaster Intake Forms distributed through Town of Pendleton and Fall Creek Regional Waste

June 25 – COAD response team deactivated

June 26 – Long Term Recovery Group (LTRG) formed; initial meeting held

July 1- August 1 – Case management initiated; 159 cases opened

July 11 – "Students Serve" Volunteer Fair held

August 11 – "Feeling Better Together" emotional support program held at Pendleton Community Library

September 19 — Grant awarded to the Friends of the Library and Friends of Falls Park for the “Lending Tree Library”

September 19 — Grant awarded to the Town of Pendleton for the “Urban Forestry Recovery Project”

October 11 — Ninestar Connect and Wabash Valley Energy employee volunteer day to assist with park and homeowner cleanup

October 19 — Falls Park Community Day sponsored by Falls Park

October 24- Homeowner assistance grants approved for homes with outstanding unmet needs


March 12 — SBA deadline for BUSINESS loans covering working capital

Spring — Group volunteer projects

October 24 — Pendleton Tree Recovery project - 300 trees planted by volunteers in one day.


"Better Together"
A gift to our community from The Story Shop.