Thursday, July 10, 2008

Lingering Aftereffects

Never to be forgotten is the devastating tornado that leveled a large section of the town of Parkersburg, Iowa on May 25 this year. A recent popular event was a fundraiser held by three graduates of the high school which was destroyed. Athletes Casey Wiegmann, Brad Meester and Jared DeVries (Aaron Kampman, planned to attend but was detained on a flight) who are all players in the NFL came back to help their former school and community. Attending the event was one Parkersburg resident in a wheelchair who cut in the long line of people waiting to get autographs. "I think I have bragging rights," he joked. "If people complain I just say, ‘Hey, did you have a house fall on you?’"

John initially wanted to skip his last Butler County Fair, even though he knew that the Fair officials had decided it should go on as planned. After all, his aunt was killed and his parents injured, as well as feeling the loss of their home and business. Also the twister had killed several head of cattle John planned to show at the fair. However, through the encouragement of friends and family he did show two of them. Four were suffering from severe injuries, and John turned his back when they were shot by the police.

An avid gardener Marian prefers working in her garden, but instead she has spent the better part of June tending her lawn, pulling a rake through the grass, periodically stooping to sift through glass, and other material. Nearby, her 12-year-old grandson, Logan, uses a magnetic bar on wheels to collect wayward nails.

After the tornado destroyed the home of Gina and Bruce, they moved into a trailer. After one night, rising flood waters forced the pair to evacuate that. Heavy rain flooded their town. Since then, it's been laugh or cry, Bruce said. He chooses the former. He is comforted by religious teachings that everything in life serves a purpose. Ironically, they weren’t home the night the tornado struck because they had gone shopping for a broken toilet handle.

Residents returning to the area that should include houses, businesses and trees, not open space, piles of debris and heavy equipment, were stunned with mixed feelings. Many look to faith for answers and strength. "This is not something you are going to wake up from."

Finding comfort in his faith, a 75-year-old who lost his wife, says, "Every day is a blessing. It's only through God's will that I'm here, because everything was out of that basement except the freezer and a few other things," he said. "Why else should I be alive?" Indeed, following last month's storm, many friends and neighbors mistakenly believed he had perished with Shirley. The couple had huddled together in the lower level, holding on to each other as the noise grew, overwhelming their senses. "Then all of a sudden there was a huge 'BOOM.' I looked up and the whole house was twirling, and then it was gone. Shirley never said a word, so I think she went to be with Jesus right there."

The business of recovery demands more than a hammer, nails and a blueprint. Some survivors find a positive outlook and thankful heart are also essential.
Quotes--courtesy of Waterloo/Cedar Falls Courier.

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