Albert Borchers had seen twisters before, twice, in fact. They touched down in Buck Grove, Iowa, in 1938 and in 1952. He knew what was happening when it got black.
So he and his sister-in-law, Ann, headed west without stopping as planned at the cemetery for a visit the Sunday before Memorial Day 2008.
“It caught us in Parkersburg,” he said as he drank his coffee in the Red Cross kitchen in the Veteran’s Memorial Building.
Ann got struck with a Jeep, “No one was in it. It was just flying through the air,” said Borchers, 79. He worried about her as he lay pinned against the dashboard of his Mercury Marquis which had hit a steel pole. Both made it.
Borcher said thanks for the burger, beans and chocolate pudding, a hearty meal before he headed to Waterloo to visit Ann in the hospital.
Nearby sat Amy and Irvin Haan, parents of three: aged one, five and eight. They spent the storm in their basement. and Amy saw the tornado when it was west in Aplington.
Amy saw the tornado when it was west in Aplington. “It looked like a bunch of clouds that were lower. They weren’t twirling.”
“I remember the sound,” Amy said. “We have a walkout basement so we could see our house breaking apart.”
The Haans came by the Red Cross kitchen every day at meal times. They felt lucky to still have their home, but wondered how long it would take for repairs when there were so many others who had lost everything and would rebuild.
Although the air was somber, smiles were still surfacing. Young girls from Dike-New Hartford schools served meals; nine-year-old Samantha worked at the information table; and Red Cross counselors traveled among them all, striking up conversations.
About the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and counsels victims of disasters; provides nearly half of the nation's blood supply; teaches lifesaving skills; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a charitable organization – not a government agency – and depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its humanitarian mission. For more information, please visit www.redcross.org or join our blog at www.redcrosschat.org.