Saved: Dashed Wedding Plans in Tornado's Wake

On Tuesday, "World News With Charles Gibson" reported on tornado victim Kiley Jansen, 21, from Parkersburg, Iowa, who was going to get married but lost her wedding dress when her house was blown away. "World News" viewers watched the story and immediately came to the rescue.

Amanda from Florida wrote to ABC News, " I have that same dress, just got married, and am willing to donate it to her for her wedding. … I grew up in the Midwest and know what the tornadoes are like." Corrine from Virginia told us, "Even though in the end it is the marriage that counts more than one day, it is still a day to be treasured. Every woman should have the dress of her dreams. Please let me know how to help her."


Sandy Kaminsky, a former ABC central division senior account executive, was also watching from her hospital bed as she battles ovarian cancer. She and her husband, Ron, from Chicago got in touch with Kiley in Iowa and ordered her a brand new dress -- the very same one that she'd lost -- and Sandy said that she is finding wonderful joy in giving Kiley her "one thing" back.

On every devastated block in Parkersburg, Iowa, in every decimated home, there is a search underway for one thing.

For Kiley Jansen, that one thing was the wedding dress she was going to soon wear down the aisle.

"I'm not going to be able to get married in September, but I guess all that matters is [my family is] all OK," Jansen broke down on yesterday's broadcast.

On Sunday, when the storm hit, the dress was hanging in a closet on the top floor of her parents' home in a room that no longer exists.

"The closet's gone. My bridesmaid shoes, the flower girl dress, all my centerpieces," she said. "I'm not sure [I will be able to get married]. We haven't really talked about it because I'm more worried about getting my parents out of here."

Her mother said she would have grabbed the dress if she had gone upstairs when the tornado warning came, but she didn't expect her home would be completely destroyed.

"[I] don't even know where to start, don't even know what tomorrow brings," Kathy Jansen said.

The younger Jansen said her wedding had represented the start of her own life, and both she and her mother say they are not sure they can afford a new dress.

"Everyone dreams of their wedding. I tried on this dress and I knew that that's the one. It pretty much fit and it was perfect," she said.

But she was dejected as she searched for it, sifting through the debris of the storm.

"You don't even know where to look, and there's such a big area to look," she said.

Throughout Parkersburg, the destruction is so complete that, for many families, the salvage effort is about finding one precious thing.

For Hope Thompkin, it was a family photo.

"Those family pictures are gone, so what do you do?" she said.

Julie Petersen wanted to find her grandmother's jewelry -- "memories of good things," she said.

For others, it's a wedding ring, a journal or a lost pet.

Even the most mundane items -- a book or a toy -- are representative of something from a life of normalcy that the storm completely shattered.

"It doesn't matter what that one thing is ... as long as they can find one thing that was in the house," Jansen said.

For Parkersburg, the road ahead is daunting. The tornado that destroyed 350 homes and killed seven people was the strongest to hit the state in 32 years, according to the National Weather Service.

The NWS rated the tornado, three-quarters of a mile wide and packing winds of up to 205 mph, an EF5 storm, the highest on its scale. The last twister of that magnitude to hit the United States was the tornado that destroyed Greensburg, Kan., killing 11 people on May 4, 2007. No storm of that force had touched down in Iowa since 1976.

Now, much of Parkersburg will have to be rebuilt from scratch.

"Where to go, what to do from here, it's all up in the air, you know," Jansen said.

But tonight, she can be certain that her wedding will go on.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.