Rebuilding stronger than before - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Rebuilding stronger than before

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by John Wilmer

WATERLOO (KWWL) -- It has been a little more than nine months since the EF5 tornado struck the community of Parkersburg, flattening a third of the town and killing several people.

Since then Parkersburg has battled back and this community is building homes and business stronger than before.  A number of the new building have been fitted with reinforced storm shelters to keep everyone safe if a tornado would ever strike again. 

Driving into Parkersburg on Highway 57, you would never know that just months ago where new homes sit were nothing more than piles of rubble, but now only new homes and businesses cover the landscape.

"I think in a few years our population will increase and business will increase and so forth and I think it's just a great opportunity for someone to come and join us," Parkersburg Economic Director Virgil Goodrich said.

The new Parkersburg City Hall has been fitted with two storm shelters. One has been reinforced with concrete, the other a special safe room made by DuPont, where the walls have Kevlar, a bullet proof material, built in.

"Ultimately if someone would have been here the day of the tornado they would have been killed and if I would have been there I would have been killed. No matter where we would have sought shelter in this building that is the old city hall, you wouldn't have made it out of it," Parkersburg Police Chief Chris Luhring said.   

"Some of the areas that would have had students, some of the classrooms, they would have been up against the northeast corner in the rooms and they actually collapsed and thankfully they were not there that day," A-P Superintendent Jon Thompson said.

The Aplington-Parkersburg High School will have a storm shelter as well, a 60 by 40 foot room that will double as the school wrestling room. The cost to build it was part of the reconstruction price.

"You know you can replace your house, you can replace your belongings and granted that's going to be a burden, but if you don't have your family after a storm like this you're not going to replace your house. To keep your family secure, you can't put a price on that," Luhring said.

The safe room in the Parkersburg City Hall was donated by DuPont and Building Products Incorporated. To have one installed it can cost eight to nine thousand dollars.

Online Reporter: John Wilmer

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