PARKERSBURG, Iowa — Step-by-step, Jared DeVries walks deeper into the nightmare that is his former high school. Every time his white cross trainers hit the ground, he is greeted by another noise: the crackling of broken glass here and the squish of wet ceiling tiles there.
The Detroit Lions defensive end has read the articles, seen the pictures and watched the videos. His friends and family warned him about what to expect.
It was a just about four weeks ago, on the evening of May 25, when an EF5 tornado, three-quarters of a mile wide, with winds in excess of 200 mph, ripped through this community of 1,900, destroying or damaging nearly half the town. The tornado, which stayed in Parkersburg for 34 seconds before traveling another 43 miles, killed six people and leveled 21 businesses, the city hall and the heart of the community: Aplington-Parkersburg High School.
DeVries knew his high school was damaged, but not until he showed up here does it hit him. Not until he climbs over the orange “BIOHAZARD” tape, walks through the water-, brick- and glass-covered halls and stands in the doorway of what was once his gymnasium, does it sink in.