One of the people at the center of the tornado recovery effort in Parkersburg says the mood of the town is starting to switch. Chris Schrage has been helping co-ordinate the serving of thousands of free meals at the American Legion post since Sunday’s tornado hit. Schrage says she’s seen a difference as people move to recovering their lives.
"Just to give you an example, on Monday when people were coming in to get food…somebody would come, fill up a box and take it back, it was a hurry, hurry, hurry thing," Schrage says. "Already yesterday after they found a lot of their personal things and stuff, when they come in they sit down, they share with each other, they check with each other,they’re talking about it, they’re working it through their system."
The American Legion Post where Schrage’s husband is commander was one of the buildings spared by the destruction, and now is at the center of the recovery. She says FEMA is set up now and people are going in and signing up. They also have a command center set up where one person makes sure all the meals are planned, another keeps track of the donations, and there’s a National Guard tanker full of water, along with bottled water. The nearby town of Aplington, which shares the school district with Parkersburg, is also involved.
Schrage says all the donations of non-perishable food and clothing are over at the Aplington school. "So, it’s just kind of like everybody here has just stepped up and taken responsibility for something, and we’re moving forward," Schrage says. All the meals are being served free, and she says they have not lacked for food as donations have come in from all over.
Schrage says Kwik Star, Swiss Valley, Crystal Distributing are all businesses that have donated, and other people have shown up with trucks full of pop, and "homemade goodies." Schrage is not surprised by the outpouring of support. "Not in Parkersburg, I’ve done a lot of volunteer projects here and have always has all the help I needed," Schrage says. They will continue serving free meals at least through Sunday.
Sunday’s tornado destroyed 350 homes and killed seven people, five were residents of Parkersburg and two lived in New Hartford.