Here is ESPN's E:60 segment on Parkersburg, the small Iowa town that was devastated by an EF-5 tornado on May 27. The twister, which at times was more than a mile wide, packed winds of 205 miles per hour and stayed on the ground for 43 miles. It claimed six lives in Parkersburg and two in neighboring New Hartford.
I was in Iowa the day the storm hit, and the next morning traveled to Parkersburg for the Los Angeles Times, my former employer. Aplington-Parkersburg High, one of the pillars of the community, was destroyed, and the Falcons' football field — known as the Sacred Acre — was strewn with debris.
Ed Thomas' football team is a source of pride for the community. Four current NFL players — centers Casey Wiegmann of the Denver Broncos and Brad Meester of Jacksonville Jaguars and defensive ends Jared DeVries of the Detroit Lions and Aaron Kampman of the Green Bay Packers — attended Aplington-Parkerburg High, a remarkable achievement for a school with an enrollment of only 240.
The twister may have swept away property, but the spirit and resolve of the people is stronger than ever.