Road to Recovery

Parkersburg Reflects on Fifth Anniversary & Oklahoma Tornado

By Jill Kasparie, Reporter

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By Jill Kasparie

PARKERSBURG, Iowa - The town has come a long way since the 2008 tornado ripped through the city, but some reminders of the storm still remain.

This week marks the fifth anniversary of the EF5 tornado. The storm blew away homes and businesses on May 25. It destroyed about a third of the town and also hit New Hartford. When it was all over, authorities said it killed nine people.

It's easy for people in Parkersburg to wish away those bad memories.

"You just want it to go away and act like it never happened some days,” said City Administrator Chris Luhring.

Luhring was the police chief when the tornado hit. He lost an aunt in the storm and had to act quickly to coordinate rescue efforts.

"The devastation was almost atomic,” Luhring said. “It was like someone had dropped a bomb literally.”

Today, however, the scene is much different. Crews rebuilt nearly all of the homes and businesses. Some came back even better than what they were before. Market President of MidWestOne Bank Clint Ackerson said his office is more energy efficient.

"We rebuilt it basically on the same footprint that was here but we made some changes and made it a LEED-certified bank,” Ackerson said.

New families have moved in and new businesses are building in the industrial park. While things are looking up, storm season brings back constant reminders.

"This time of year especially with the tornado that just happened in Oklahoma and your heart goes out to them because you know what it's like,” Ackerson said.

Rescue workers are still searching for survivors in Moore, Oklahoma after an EF5 tornado devastated the city on Monday. Authorities said 24 people died, including nine children.

Parkersburg City Administrator said his city has a lot to be thankful for. Speaking from experience, he's confident victims in Oklahoma will eventually feel the same way.

"We also just give a push, you know, it will be alright. Things will get better and get up and people will help you rebuild,” Luhring said.

Luhring said he knows as soon as emergency crews call for help down in Oklahoma, Parkersburg residents will be among the first to respond, helping in any way they can.

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