National Spotlight on Parkersburg Recovery

By Claire Kellett, Anchor/Reporter

PARKERSBURG - Friday night people across the country heard their story of devastation. ABC's 20/20 aired an hour long special on Parkersburg called, "Blown Away Twisted Terror."

It went through what happened in this small Iowa town on May 25, 2008.

After the tornado the Schippers were trapped in their basement with there young daughter for some time. They made it out safely and have since built a new house in town.

Like many here they say it's not always easy to talk about what happened that Spring afternoon.

People who live in Parkersburg vividly remember the stormy Spring afternoon a deadly tornado tore through town.

"Our house was 102 years old, it seemed like it must have been made out of toothpicks and bubble gum the way it crumbled around us and it did just crumble around us," said Amy Schipper.

Amy and Dalen Schipper aren't just sharing their story of survival with us, thy are talking to the entire country. The Shippers are one of the Parkersburg families ABC interviewed for Friday's 20/20 special.

"There were multiple sound people, multiple light people it was a pretty big operation," said Amy.

But ironically the Shippers say such attention is not really a big deal to people in Parkersburg.

"I think people locally and in the surrounding towns have heard this story one too many times maybe," said Dalen.

But the Shippers are glad people nationwide now know of the town's tragic tornado story that's because they are proud how fast Parkersburg has rebuilt.

"You get a lot of dedicated volunteers that's basically what build this town back up sometimes that the best and fastest way to do it," said Dalen.

The work is far from over, Parkersburg is still rebuilding from more than a year later. The progress is evident every day.

"Like just today we pulled into the driveway and saw our neighbors across the street just got grass today. It looks nice a lot different," said Amy.

While people know Parkersburg will never look the same they say the town is stronger.

"In Parkersburg if you learn anything from this situation it's that you can get it done," said Dalen.

And this small Iowa town did get it done, following a deadly tornado.

ABC News crews didn't realize they would have so many stories from people here in Parkersburg. Unfortunately not everyone interviewed could be in Friday's story.

Meanwhile, Aplington Parkersburg's football team is also gaining national attention.

ESPN and KCRG-TV9 will broadcast the Falcons first game of the season August 28th against Dike-New Hartford.

The game will be at the Ed Thomas Field in Parkersburg. Kickoff and Broadcast times are still pending.
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