Three Years Since The 2008 EF-5, Parkersburg Looks At Progress

By Jillian Petrus, Reporter

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PARKERSBURG, Iowa – It's just before five o’clock on Wednesday and Parkersburg native Tom Teeple is closing his barbershop downtown.

It was at this time, three years ago, a massive tornado threw him and his wife from their home

“I just can’t explain what that feeling was like when everything you have is going east,” said Teeple.

The EF-5 tornado swept through in a matter of minutes, killing eight, between Parkersburg and neighboring New Hartford, and injuring many others.

Outside Teeple’s new home, neighbors, like sister and brother Karen and Dana Anderson, walk over to share their stories of survival.

Karen Anderson described the challenge rescuers faced trying to save both she and her brother.

“Every time they tried to pull stuff off me, debris would fall.”

Her brother reflected on the moment the tornado ripped apart their home.

“I remember the house collapsing,” he said. “Then it just got deathly quiet.”

In the silence, Dana Anderson waited for rescue as he was trapped 45 minutes under the rubble with a broken leg.

As the neighbors reflected on the resilience of this small Iowa community, their thoughts are also with people in Alabama, Oklahoma and now Joplin, Missouri where the death toll from Sunday’s tornado, now measured as an EF-5, has reached more than 125.

“I feel for those people I know exactly what they’re going through,” said Teeple.

“My heart aches for them. A lot of memories to lose absolutely everything you’ve ever known,” Anderson said.

Both the Andersons and Teeple shared words of advice for southern communities now trying to put their lives and homes back together.

“Look to your neighbors,” Anderson said standing next to his sister in their new home built by volunteers last year.

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