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Tornado 2008: Parkerburg's distinctive A-frame house survived massive tornado
(Courier Photo by Jeff Reinitz)

PARKERSBURG - Bob Nemeyer still remembers his first glimpse of his house after arriving in Parkersburg following last week's tornado.

"We drove up over the hill and could see the conflagration all around," said Nemeyer, who was in Colorado with his wife when the storm hit.

But amid the toppled trees and flattened homes, his A-frame house was still standing.

"It was an emotional moment," he said.

He said friends in other states were able to pick out the home's telltale shape from televised footage shot from a news helicopter.

"I'm the only house that will be left in a few days when everything gets demoed," he said.

The A-frame's windows were knocked out, and there was debris inside. A wall of his attached garage was blown out.

But the house apparently took little damage.

The brunt of the tornado passed about a block or so to the south of the A-frame, and Nemeyer estimates his home took winds of about 200 mph.

He suspects the design has something to do with its survival.

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"We assume (the storm) couldn't get any purchase. It couldn't get any lift," said Bob Nemeyer, who works at Waterloo's Grout Museum.

The stringers, essentially the roof studs, are also closer together than standard roofs, he said.

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The family still has to have the home's foundation examined to determine if it took any substantial damage. If it did, they will have to knock down the A-frame and rebuild.

If that is the case, would he build another A-frame?

"We would be silly not to, wouldn't we?" he said.

The home was built in 1975 by Clarence Waltermann, and the Nemeyers bought it in 1982.

He said the price was good, and he liked the architecture.

"I like things that are unconventional, so it fit us well," he said.

Contact Jeff Reinitz at (319) 291-1578 or jeff.reinitz@wcfcourier.com.

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