Kampman discusses shock, awe

Sunday's tornado wiped out many buildings that fill his memories of Parkersburg, Iowa, but he's impressed with the feeling of camaraderie as the residents pick up the pieces.

"Bricks and mortar won't conquer the spirit of the people."

That was Aaron Kampman's message during a Thursday news conference in which he discussed the killer tornado that wiped out many of the buildings of his memories in his native Iowa on Sunday afternoon.

"The initial thing is shock, obviously, because it's a place where i grew up, and it's hard to recognize," Kampman said of the devastation in Parkersburg, Iowa. "Imagine a skyline ... and all there are are mangled trees and rubble."

Along with a toll-free number (800-588-7551) to donate, Kampman said the Green Bay Salvation Army is accepting donations, with 100 percent of the money being given to the Iowa rebuilding effort if "Parkersburg Relief Fund" is written on the memo line of the check.

Kampman, who said his 81-year-old grandfather who was injured in the tornado is doing "much better," spent all of Monday and most of Tuesday cleaning up the carnage before coming back to Green Bay for the Wednesday and Thursday practices. He said he's going back next weekend, perhaps with some teammates.

"Really, there was nothing else you could do, so that's why I decided to come back," said Kampman, noting continued rain the area and the ongoing demolition process led by the insurance companies.

Because the tornado struck on Sunday and Kampman didn't arrive in Parkersburg until early Monday morning, he saw some of the destruction on television beforehand. Nothing, however, could prepare him for what he saw upon his arrival.

"Nothing really prepares you for seeing it live," Kampman said. "Again, the church I was a part of, 200 homes, my high school, the grocery store, gas stations. All of the things that make that town are no longer there."

Even with so much destruction and misery, Kampman continues to focus on the positives.

"It's actually pretty amazing," he said. "It's a tight-knit group. There's a real spirit of camaraderie. You have firefighters from neighboring counties. I've seen people from Wisconsin. So, a lot of people are coming to the area. People are fighting back to back. Neighbors helping neighbors. ... People will walk up your driveway and say, ‘Hey, what do you need?' That's pretty special. A lot of people have pulled together. There's a spirit of ... ‘We'll rebuild.' A lot of proud people there."

Kampman is one of them. Never a self-promoter, he's using his celebrity to impact the lives of those in need.

"I'm real careful to never use the position we've been put in for our own gain," he said. "But, when you can do something like this to really help people you care a lot about, it's neat."

Steve Lawrence is a frequent contributor to PackerReport.com. E-mail him at steve_lawrence_packers@yahoo.com

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