One Year Later: A Jones County story of survival

By Josh Hinkle, KCRG-TV9 Reporter


By Becky Ogann

JONES COUNTY - Iowa City wasn't the only place in eastern Iowa where tornadoes hit a year ago. It's been a long year of picking up the pieces for owners of about 50 homes in that area. The tornado touched down just west of Anamosa in Jones County, with the majority of damage along Lead Mine Road.

A snow storm in April is not nearly as shocking as the weather here one year ago. Everywhere you turn, century-old trees snapped in half, piles of debris still out in the open, visible reminders of the F-1 tornado that ripped through Jones County.

Jerome Oberbreckling was the only person injured during the tornado. For him, the reminder isn't what he sees, it's what he hears.

"When it gets up around 35 miles per hour winds, it scares me. I hope they don't get any worse than that after what happened," said Oberbreckling.

After the tornado, his mobile home was hanging in this tree. He was trapped under his refrigerator, staring up into the sky at his own belongings.

"A lot of the stuff ran like a funnel spinning, went up to the air," said Oberbreckling.

Oberbreckling walked away from the storm with stitches in his head. His house was one of 46 in Jones County that suffered a much worse fate.

Now, new garages and portions of homes stand where their older models once did. Oberbreckling had to replace his entire home.

"I didn't realize wind could do that much damage until it happened to me," said Oberbreckling.

As the unexpected snow hides the remaining damage, Oberbreckling says nothing will cover up his story of survival. It's something he'll never forget.

President Bush never declared Jones County a disaster area, so county officials never really got a damage estimate, although they guess it was somewhere in the millions. Luckily, most of the homes here were insured.

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