Parkersburg Tornado: Stories of Survival

By Josh Hinkle, Anchor/Reporter


By Becky Ogann

PARKERSBURG - TV9 has spoken with a large number of people who lived through the storms. We've spoken to people who hid under the stairs and that's all that was left standing, people who held onto a toilet for dear life during the tornado. When you only have seconds to save your life, you have to think quick. A walk-in freezer door was the only thing between Nicole Maitland and the EF-5 tornado. Her brother John's high school graduation party was minutes away from starting at Matt's Grill and Bar. "He was joking before when it started getting dark out, saying oh great no one is going to come to my party," said Nicole Maitland, tornado survivor. Fifteen people huddled inside the freezer. "They were screaming because their ears were hurting so bad and it was pitch black in there," said Maitland. Maitland immediately thought about her other brother Jordan who drove away right before the storm hit. Her Dad was outside with the grill. "Every time I close my eyes, I picture my Dad standing there with blood pouring down him, just screaming Jordan's name over and over," Maitland said. The tornado destroyed more than 300 homes. In just seconds the entire town had to seek some kind of shelter. Some people like Dennis Geichen and his wife made it to the basement. His 85-year old mother didn't. "She started in the kitchen. She went through three walls, and ended up in the bedroom laying on the carpet," said Geichen. Maitland said they found her missing brother Jordan in his car near that couple's house uninjured. "My Dad literally collapsed and screamed the most guttural scream you can imagine," said Maitland. She was able to tell this story because a twist of fate put her in a sturdy space at exactly the right time. Just because you found a safe place didn't necessarily mean you were safe. One couple we've talked about, Herman and Shirley Luhring both made it to the basement. He lived, but she didn't. Watch the video

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