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Running Iowa tornado/flood thread

Discussion in 'Sports and News' started by NX, May 26, 2008.

  1. NX

    NX Member

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    By JENNIFER JACOBS, JUAN PEREZ JR., JARED STRONG, KEN FUSON and CYNTHIA REYNAUD • DES MOINES REGISTER STAFF WRITERS • May 26, 2008

    Parkersburg, Ia. — At least 67 people were injured Sunday when a mile-wide tornado tore through four communities, reducing large sections of the towns to rubble.

    Six people were killed in the tornado. At least four people are in critical condition in area hospitals and dozens others were treated.

    Residents of Parkersburg this morning began returning to the community, the hardest hit by the late Sunday afternoon storms.

    Mayor Bob Haylock described Parkersburg as "a total disaster." He said about one-third of the town, which has about 1,900 residents, was destroyed.

    "I don't think words really cover it,” said Haylock, who has been Parkersburg’s mayor for six years.

    The tornado, estimated to be a mile wide, moved between 5:30 and 6:15 p.m. from Aplington to New Hartford to the north side of Waterloo and then into Dunkerton, according to Miles Schumacher, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service. Parkersburg bore the brunt of the severe weather.

    Four people in Parkersburg were confirmed dead from the tornado; Two others were killed in nearby New Hartford.

    National Weather Service officials said today the tornado was potentially greater than an F3 -- or 165 mph -- on the Fujita scale, a system that classifies tornadic intensity.

    There's a reasonable chance the devastation caused by Sunday's tornado could rate higher than an F3, possibly reaching the most severe F4 or F5 categories, Rod Donovan said.

    The Butler County Sheriff said people had five minutes warning before the tornado hit.

    Sgt. Matt Lind was sitting in his patrol car near the Butler-Grundy county line Sunday afternoon when the tornado began forming.

    He said he called in an alert, describing the funnel as “a slight rotation.” Minutes later, it had quadrupled in size, he said.

    “It knocked down trees in front of my car,” Lind said.

    He and another officer got into their cars and followed behind the tornado as it gained size and speed. At 4:59 p.m. Lind got a page: “Please go to Parkersburg.”

    ----

    Chilling scene with Sgt. Lind, isn't it?

    I had the weekend off, but when I heard this morning about Parkersburg, about 30 miles from us, I felt that rush of adrenaline that comes with that instinctive journalist pull that tells us we have to go there, because there's a story that needs to be told.

    We may not be able to do what medical personnel can do, or what emergency management personnel can do, but we can write about it. We can get on the other side of the line of National Guardsmen, where others can't go, and tell the stories of tragedy and hopefully triumph, the stories that connect us all.

    The top photo - from the Des Moines Register - is of the Aplington-Parkersburg High School that was a total loss. The gym's roof is gone and you can make out the light-rigging for the stage. I covered many basketball games there. Same with track in the upper left corner of the photo. The other photo is of complete devastation not far from the high school, as was most of the damage on the southern third of the small town.

    Parkersburg actually boasts four players currently active on NFL rosters and A-P head coach Ed Thomas, also the school's A.D., was named the NFL's high school coach of the year a couple years back, an accolade that drew ESPN out to do a humorous Kenny Mayne bit on elementary classes studying football only, complete with a naughty third grader writing "I will not run a six-yard route on third-and-eight" numerous times on the chalkboard.

    The football field was in better shape than most D-III fields. During track meets it's roped off and announcements are made every 10 minutes to scold runners who are even thinking about cutting across to get to the backstretch. Today, the goal posts are mangled, the sod is sliced up and part of the school and the bleachers are resting in pieces on it.

    Because of this community's strong ties to those players, I would think there will be many more stories to come from this tiny part of this unpopulated state that is getting the kind of national attention it never wanted, not like this anyway. More help is coming, on top of the help that has already arrived. Parkersburg is getting that, but they could never have too many prayers.

    Today it struck me just how much an image a tree stripped of its leaves is an iconic image of total devastation. If only that oak tree that the mattress had been impaled on, the tree propping up the 4x4 by its tailgate, the tree with the siding and clothing wrapped around it, if it only still had its leaves, maybe the picture wouldn't seem so bleak. Maybe if the tree behind it, and the one behind that one, the ones inside the mile-wide path that if seen from above looks like it's ripped from "Twister," maybe if all those trees still had their leaves too, like the trees a half a mile away in that direction and those trees a half mile away in the other direction that look like all they saw yesterday was sunshine, maybe that photo would be much easier to look at.

    Maybe not.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 15, 2014
  2. kingcreole

    kingcreole Active Member

    Re: Tornado-ravaged Iowa community needs prayers

    After seeing Greensburg, Kan., this Iowa town is in my thoughts.
     
  3. Angola!

    Angola! Guest

    Re: Tornado-ravaged Iowa community needs prayers

    Wow, those photos are crazy.

    I guess it is good the tornado hit on a Sunday so no one was in the school.

    NX - Not sure if you work in Des Moines or not, but you say you had the day off. How did your paper handle it? Most community sized papers would only have one newsider working on a Sunday. Did they just start calling folks in? Was it the kind of all hands on deck thing where they call in sports folks as well?

    Anyway, I hope you and all your people are safe and hopefully unaffected by this.
     
  4. NX

    NX Member

    Re: Tornado-ravaged Iowa community needs prayers

    I'm not in Des Moines, but I believe the Waterloo Courier, about 20 miles away, sent just about everyone who had ever heard of a camera to Parkersburg and New Hartford, a smaller community to the east, within minutes. The color in some of those images is haunting.

    I'm at a weekly and was about two hours away with my family. My cell phone never jingled. Parkersburg is on the fringe of the fringe of our coverage area, but in times like this, there is no fringe. It wasn't all hands on deck for us, though.

    But I do know, by the silent cell phone, everyone here is accounted for, although most of us know someone - a coach, a resident - who was touched. I was supposed to cover a baseball game that included A-P this week, but I did get a call this morning telling me that it has been canceled. The coach's house was unscathed, a mere four blocks from the monster. The house of Ed Thomas was not so lucky.

    New Hartford is in the coverage area of a sister publication, so I hope to help them out, if we don't need any help tomorrow. Even though I wasn't at ground zero yesterday or today, sometimes some of the greatest stories from these tragedies are being told even weeks later. I'd like to help tell them.
     
  5. Angola!

    Angola! Guest

    Re: Tornado-ravaged Iowa community needs prayers

    Good luck. It can be very cathartic to the community and the newspaper to tell these types of stories.
     
  6. NX

    NX Member

    Re: Tornado-ravaged Iowa community needs prayers

    I really appreciate it. If, for some reason, I'm not needed as a journalist, I just may take a drive to see if I can help some other way.
     
  7. JBHawkEye

    JBHawkEye Active Member

    Re: Tornado-ravaged Iowa community needs prayers

    Yesterday just felt like it was going to be a bad day with the weather. Warm, humid _ it just felt weird.

    We were lucky _ we had storms bearing down on us late last night that died about 20 miles before they got here.

    The newspaper coverage by everyone has been excellent. That's all I've been doing all day is reading the stories.
     
  8. NX

    NX Member

    Re: Tornado-ravaged Iowa community needs prayers

    I left this area late Sunday morning after playing tennis with a friend and we both also noticed how humid it was for being just after 8 a.m.

    My family and I actually went to my mother-in-laws on Lake Delhi - JB probably knows where that is - which was dumped on with two-and-a-half inches of rain by that same system. But before the rain, the southern edge of nearly due-east system stayed about 10 miles north. For more than an hour, maybe almost two, there was only a slight breeze and nothing but the sound of constant, never-ending distant thunder. Eerie.

    But no one had any idea what was going on in Parkersburg and New Hartford.
     
  9. Tom Petty

    Tom Petty Guest

    Re: Tornado-ravaged Iowa community needs prayers

    yes. a feeling that nearly is impossible to describe.


    and good thoughts for these folks.
     
  10. Armchair_QB

    Armchair_QB Well-Known Member

    Re: Tornado-ravaged Iowa community needs prayers

    NX:

    Was Thomas' home destroyed or damaged?
     
  11. NX

    NX Member

    Re: Tornado-ravaged Iowa community needs prayers

    Thomas has, of course, been a hard man to get a hold of, but I just got off the phone with the Iowa High School Athletic Association information specialist Bud Legg, who talked with Thomas this morning. Legg had been trying to get in contact with Thomas all yesterday, just to make sure he was fine, but hadn't been able to. Thomas called early this morning. Legg said that, yes, the house was destroyed.

    The high school baseball field to the east of Aplington-Parkersburg High School was scheduled to host a couple rounds of postseason games in a little over a month, but those will probably be moved. Legg didn't want to talk with Thomas about that yet, though, since the A.D. has enough to worry about.

    The school's NFL-playing alumni were major contributors to a fitness center that was recently built onto the school. Thomas told Legg that current A-P football players were scavenging through the rubble yesterday to try to save what they could of the weights.

    I have state golf tomorrow, but my publisher told me to head to Parkersburg Thursday. I plan to spend all day there and I'd like to work for about four or five hours before I start asking any questions.
     
  12. three_bags_full

    three_bags_full Well-Known Member

    Re: Tornado-ravaged Iowa community needs prayers

    NX,

    I'm glad you and yours are doing well. Having lived in the South for many years, I can certainly understand that eerie feeling surrounding a tornado.

    During my time in the Guard in Alabama, I was mobilized to help Birmingham recover from an F5 that killed 32 people. I've never seen such a sight.

    Our barn was once leveled by a tornado that spared our house about 150 yards away in the spring of 1992.

    Hope you and the NXes are doing well. Gimme a call some time.
     
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