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Kampman's mind on tornado-devastated Iowa

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Aaron Kampman was back at work Thursday, but his mind was back in Iowa.

The Green Bay Packers' two-time Pro Bowl defensive end spent Monday and part of Tuesday in Iowa, surveying the devastation from the tornado that struck the region Sunday, killing seven and injuring more than 50, including Kampman's paternal grandfather, Claas.

After seeing several photos on the Internet on Sunday evening of what the tornado had wrought, Kampman and his brother-in-law drove to Parkersburg, Iowa on Monday morning.

"We had seen a little bit of the devastation, but nothing really prepares you for seeing it live," Kampman said following Thursday's organized team activity practice. "Over 200 homes, the high school, the grocery store, the gas station -- all of the things that make that town are no longer there.

"The initial (feeling) is shock, obviously, because it's a place where I grew up and it's hard to recognize the area. You imagine a skyline with houses and trees and landscape, and really all that is there is mangled trees and rubble."

Claas Kampman is "getting better" after surgery for injuries he sustained when the tornado "took him" as he walked up the stairs of his home, thinking the worst was over, Kampman said. Kampman wouldn't elaborate on his grandfather's condition, saying only: "For an 81-year-old man, he's a fighter."

Kampman and his wife, Linde, were visiting friends in Kansas City, Mo., over the Memorial Day weekend when they learned the tornado struck their native area shortly before 5 p.m. Sunday. They stayed in Iowa until 4 p.m. Tuesday, then returned to Green Bay.

"There really wasn't much you could do," Kampman said.

Packers coach Mike McCarthy would have encouraged Kampman to stay in Iowa even with the first OTA practice of the week set for Wednesday, but Kampman chose to return to work. Although the practices are voluntary, the only player who decided not to attend this week is veteran cornerback Al Harris.

"Definitely, the priority is what's going on in Iowa for Aaron Kampman," McCarthy said.

Packers general manager Ted Thompson said the team is interested in assisting with the relief efforts and that "a lot of individuals like myself have inquired. But I think there's still some question as to how best to help. A lot of people want to help, but you have to make sure it's going to the right spot and the right time."

Kampman's parents' house in Kesley was unaffected, but Aplington-Parkersburg High School, which has produced four current NFL players (Kampman, Denver's Casey Weigmann, Detroit's Jared DeVries and Jacksonville's Brad Meester) was significantly damaged. Kampman said Linde's parents and his grandfather were the only immediate family members directly impacted by the storm.

Kampman said he'd like to return this weekend to the area. So far, though, he's been impressed with how the community has banded together.

"There is a real sense -- after the dazed looks that were initially kind of there, which is to be expected -- of a determination to say 'Hey, we'll rebuild.' It's actually pretty amazing," Kampman said, adding that a number of teammates have offered to help, too. "I think that is really what is pretty neat in the midst of all of this, even though there is such pain and loss (of) material things."

Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press

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