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Midwest Glass Shops Stand By to Repair Tornado Damage

Many cars and homes stand glassless in Parkersburg, Iowa. Those are the lucky ones. More than 200 homes and business were destroyed by a severe tornado that struck the area on May 25. Six people died as a result of the Iowa tornado.

Wyatt Ziesman is a partner in the auto and residential glass replacement shop Z&Z Glass in Iowa Falls, Iowa, and an emergency medical technician with the local volunteer fire department. He's had an up-close look at the damage to the Parkersburg area and says that it's even worse than has been reported.

"I've been over there for a couple of days working, but that's the only thing I've really done," says Ziesman. "I've been helping the victims."

Ziesman's job has only just began as he, along with the residents of Iowa's Butler, Black Hawk, Buchanan and Delaware counties, slowly shift attention from the search for survivors to the process of repairing-and in many cases, rebuilding-property.

"A lot of the houses are just completely gone," says Matt Nolting, president of Allen Glass Co. in Waterloo, Iowa, an auto and commercial glass shop. "You can't even get into the town to assess the damage so I don't really even know the extent of the damage."

Ziesman has seen some indication of the repair work to come. "I'd say probably 90 percent of the area that I've been in there isn't any glass work that's going to be done," he says. "There isn't anything to put glass in. But off the edge of the tornado path, there are some cars that do have damage, and the houses that are still standing but the windows are gone or the businesses' windows are gone or the car's. So I'm sure we will be getting affected by it."

Today the phone has just started ringing for shops outside of the directly-affected area.

Laurie, the office manager for Iowa Falls Glass, less than 30 miles outside of Parkersburg, says that while it's still too early for much work to start, a few calls have come in looking for auto and commercial glass repairs.

"There's been just a couple calls on structures still standing," she says.

"I don't think they're to that point yet," Nolting says of the repair work he expects soon to come. "I think it's still just clearing debris right now."

A statement issued today by the National Weather Service called the tornado "an extraordinarily rare event."

According to the Service, "Since 1950 ...there have been over 50,000 tornadoes reported in the United States. This number is certainly underestimated given the under-reporting of events from 1950 through the mid 1990's. During this time ...a total of 52 EF5s [the highest rating on the Enhanced Fujita scale] have occurred, including the Parkersburg tornado. In other words ... EF5s make up a total of 0.001 percent of all tornadoes. This is only the second EF5 since 2000 and the 15th since 1980 in the United States.

CLICK HERE to read more about the tornado's impact on Iowa.

CLICK HERE to read about damage caused by the tornado that struck Hugo, Minn., on May 25.

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