Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Moving on after a tornado

I know I promised you folks a week off from my writing, but something came up and I want to write about it. There were multiple tornadoes reported all across the Northeastern part of Iowa. For the record, I am okay, the tornadoes that occurred on Sunday were nowhere near where I lived, but I did find a lot of debris in my family's yard. This is my only post of the week.

On May 25, it was a terribly humid Sunday. People in Iowa were out and about, celebrating Memorial Day weekend, attending graduations and graduation parties. However, the town of Parkersburg, Iowa suffered one of the worst tornadoes in the history of the state.

The small town of almost 2,000 residents experienced an EF5 tornado, which is considered the highest on the Enhanced Fujita scale. The tornado occurred shortly before 5 p.m.

The tornado caused serious damage throughout the town. When it was all said and done, five of the towns citizens were dead, more than 50 were injured and hundreds of homes were destroyed, forcing an entire town to evacuate from the places that they called home. Debris flew far away and went as far as Prairie Du Chen, Wisc.

The high school didn't get off that easily either.

Aplington-Parkersburg High School suffered serious damage. The tornado rendered the high school, virtually useless. The school will have to be torn down and could take years, as opposed to months, for it to be rebuilt.

The story of AP is significant in the sense that their football team is renowned for current NFL players that are on the sidelines. AP has turned out such stars as Kansas City Chiefs center Casey Wiegmann, Green Bay Packers defensive end Aaron Kampman, Detroit Lions defensive end Jared DeVries and Jacksonville Jaguars center Brad Meester.

All four players played under AP coach Ed Thomas, who has won 281 games in his 36 year coaching career, ninth all-time in Iowa High School football history.

Last season the Falcons, as they are known, went 8-2 on the season. They were knocked out in the first round of the 1A state tournament by Newman Catholic from Mason City. AP has multiple state championships with their last one coming in 2001.

At this point, it is unknown what will happen to AP. It is also unknown what will happen to its football team. The town is in complete disarray from the tornado. It's heartbreaking to see this kind of hardship on this small town.

At this point, football is secondary to everything else. On a smaller magnitude, Parkersburg experienced its own version of what New Orleans experienced during Hurricane Katrina. It's important for the town of Parkersburg to rebuild. Even though the memory will forever be etched in the heads of many folks, there will come a time when Parkersburg returns to its normal self.

Hopefully, the high school can be rebuilt and can be built better than before. AP can truly rise again.

If you're interested in lending a hand, please visit the Hawkeye Chapter of the American Red Cross. Just click on the link.

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