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Meester's hometown flattened


Out of the ashes of a small town's ruins rises a story of rural values that promise to put Parkersburg, Iowa, population about 2,000, on the map.

It is the hometown of Jaguars center Brad Meester. It is also the hometown of Detroit Lions defensive lineman Jared DeVries, Denver Broncos offensive lineman Casey Wiegmann and Green Bay Packers defensive lineman Aaron Kampman.

Huh? Four guys playing in the NFL at the same time from the same small farm town in Iowa? How is that possible?

"I don't know," Meester said with a smile and a shrug of his shoulders.

This week, all four players have something else in common: Their high school and their hometown were nearly destroyed by a tornado this past weekend.

In Meester's case, the story is very personal. His wife's family lost two homes, four cars and most of their personal belongings. Fortunately, none of them lost their lives.

The house in which Jamie Meester grew up is gone. So is her grandmother's house. This week, as Parkersburg sifts through the ashes left by an F-5 tornado, Jamie's family is living with Brad's. Small town life can truly be special.

"There wasn't a lot left. They had some dishes left. Some of their clothes were left," Meester said.

The warning siren sounded five minutes before the tornado struck. They know the drill in Iowa. Jamie's father, her sister and brother in law were at Jamie's parents' home. Jamie's mother was at Jamie's grandmother's house. When the siren blew, everybody headed to their respective basements for safety.

"They stayed through the whole thing," Meester said. Tornadoes, of course, strike quickly and leave just as quickly. "They said they felt like they were getting sucked out of the house.

"The roofs are gone. The cars are destroyed. It's definitely life-changing," Meester said.

Jamie left for home on Tuesday, to see how she might help. Her husband remains in Jacksonville, where he participated Wednesday in the Jaguars' eighth of 14 OTA practices.

"It went right down the middle of our high school. The gym is gone. It looks like a big hole in the middle of the high school," Meester said of Parkersburg High, small-school state champions in Meester's junior year. DeVries was a senior on that team. Jamie was a sophomore. She and Brad began dating the following year.

"Insurance is going to pay for a lot of it but we're in that time now that they have to ride it out. A third to half of the town is gone. It went through the main part of town," Meester said.

Life goes on, right? Sometimes it just seems to stop.

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