Jason has relatives in Parkersburg. On Monday, Carla and Jason went up to Parkersburg to help his relatives with the damage to their property after the tornado. Here is a portion of an e-mail that Carla sent out about Jason’s relatives experience with the tornado:

Yes, the relatives are all fine physically. Nothing is more important than family!

The grandparents (Ben & Esther) were in Okoboji visiting Roger & Carol when the tornado passed through, but they got back yesterday while we were raking their yard. They were shocked to see their town of many years, leveled. They were happy to see their house standing, but sad for their neighbors. I don’t think it really set in on Esther though. Ben looked like it hit him pretty hard and he was the one we were worried about all day.

Bev, Lonnie & Chad were camping at the nearby campground when the watch was issued for the area so they left the campground north of Parkersburg to seek shelter at Ben & Esther’s house.

Allie was a senior at Applington-Parkersburg. They had her Open House on Mother’s Day. She was out at other open houses when she called and told her Mom & Dad she was coming home because the weather looked like it was going to be bad on tv. She is afraid of thunderstorms. She got home ten minutes before the siren went off.

Ty had just finished mowing the grass and working on her flower bed so she went inside to change clothes when Allie got home. When the siren went off they, along with Dean, ran down to the basement where they pulled an air mattress over their heads. Ty had her arms around Allie and Dean laid on top of them with the mattress.

Ty said Allie screamed the whole time and they were shaking. They were shaking so hard, their muscles hurt.

All Ty said she could hear was Allie screaming.

Dean said it sounded just like they say on Tv… like a train is coming right at you. He said he just held onto the girls and the mattress for dear life. He said it only lasted about 45 seconds. It was very quick. Then he walked up the basement stairs because it became very quiet and he could see light coming down the stairs.

They said when they came up the stairs, they were in total shock.

Ty said just 20 minutes before, she was outside working on flowers and suddenly she had nothing.

They are homeless and they don’t have any vehicles, no clothes… nothing. But they have their lives.

Their neighbor was injured and Dean pulled him out of the basement for his wife. Dean said even though he was breathing, he knew he wasn’t going to make it because the back of his head was bleeding and, as he looked down to the ground, he said “it was gone.” So… we gathered from that statement that he had a severe head injury. The neighbor died overnight.

When we went to the house yesterday morning at 7am, it was the first time they’d been back during daylight hours. They all cried. Their son Josh and his wife Brooke live in West Des Moines and they came up too.

It’s a really strong emotion when you stand there and think of how quickly their lives changed… 45 seconds. And it can happen to anyone at anytime.

So then we all started searching the rubble. Ty and Dean wanted to find their purse and wallet… because they had no money, no ATM card, no credit card to do or buy anything.

Allie needed to find her golf clubs and school uniform because she is golfing at the state tournament today.

Ty also wanted to find her wedding rings. She had two sets – her original set and an anniversary set that she had taken off and put on her nightstand to do gardening.

We found everything except the anniversary wedding ring. They said they would keep sifting and sifting until they find it.

Carla also sent out some pictures:

Jason is going back up on Friday to help out some more.