Cedar Rapids Weather
Tornado Hits Two Elderly Couples
By Josh Hinkle, Anchor/Reporter
PARKERSBURG - Much of the devastation is in the Butler County town of Parkersburg. That's where a tornado two-thirds of a mile wide struck Sunday afternoon. Six people died that day and another died in the hospital on Monday, bringing the number to seven.
Most of the homes on the worst hit block of Parkersburg are piles of debris, but the two were completely sucked away, nothing left. That's what scared family members the most.
"At first it was like, where's the homes, where's the houses. There were people running everywhere looking for loved ones," said Lonnie Wright.
Lonnie Wright found his loved ones in the basement of the house that once sat here. His mother-in-law Shirley Luhring was dead.
Crews rushed his father-in-law Herman Luhring to the trauma center at University Hospitals.
"He's doing much better, neck injuries, lacerations but hopefully he'll be home in time for the funeral," said Wright.
Along with his wife, Herman Luhring also lost his next door neighbors. Family members first found Ethel Mulder dead on the lawn.
"Then they said they couldn't find dad, he was thrown away too. A couple hundred feet away from the house," said Rod Mulden, Ethel's son.
These were long-standing couples in this town of just a few thousand. The Luhrings were married more than 50 years ago, the Mulders celebrated their 60th anniversary last year.
"It's not that it affected one family. It affected the whole town," said Jason Johnson, neighbor.
Wright says his father in law is now recovering and overcome with a mess of emotions.
"He's thankful to be alive and he's very happy for his blessings and at the same time he knows he's lost his love," said Wright.
Shirley Luhring, 71, and Richard and Ethel Mulder, both 80, were not the only victims in Parkersburg.
Neighbors pulled Ray Meyocks, 74, safely out of his basement, but he suffered a heart attack and died shortly after.
Charles Horan, 72, also died later at Covenant Medical Center from his injuries. That's five in Parkersburg.
Two more people died a few miles away in New Hartford, Leasa Bleeker, 71, and Norman Beuthien, 48.
That's seven deaths total from this tornado and certainly a lot more devastation.
Email Josh Hinkle at Josh.Hinkle@kcrg.com
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