Dads to the rescue

—Local parents help out kids during/after derecho storm
NORTHEAST IOWA - Dads are always there for their little princesses. Several dads (and moms) from northeast Iowa dropped what they were doing when they received the emergency bat signal from their children!
Central Iowa was devastated Monday, Aug. 10 when a derecho storm system started on the Nebraska/Iowa line heading east. It caused major havoc in the center third of the state, eventually going through northern Illinois and Chicago, before crossing Lake Michigan and northern Indiana.
Gary Klomp and brother-in-law Chris Chilson of Lime Springs were enjoying a leisurely game of golf, when Klomp got a call from his daughter, Nicole Crawford. She lives in Shellsburg, but was at work in Cedar Rapids, when reports of major damage in her area took place. 
What does a girl do but call her dad? (Husband Justin was on the road trucking.) The guys took off for her home two-and-a-half hours away to see what they could do. 
Nicole had already gotten off work due to no electricity and was just looking over the damage when it was Dad and Uncle to the rescue. Soon more help arrived, including hubby and his mother and brother. The crew removed six pickup loads of branches. 
The Crawfords sustained lost branches, a strip of shingles, the roof to the patio, a blown in garage door and window and more. They were lucky. Many others received even more damage.
As Klomp and Chilson were driving home, they stopped to get something to eat in Elk Run Heights near Waterloo. 
Also eating there were Tary and Brenda Kolek of Lime Springs, who were making the trek to Urbana to help daughter, Amiah, who had run out of gas. The electricity at the gas station went out when she was pulling up. (Many cars were stalled on the side of the roads — not because of debris, although that was the problem for some, but because without electricity, nobody could get gas.)
When Amiah needed help, who did she call? Dad (and Mom) of course! And they left as soon as they could after the 5:30 p.m. call.
Tary said, “I didn’t know how much gas to bring, so we brought 10 gallons. We gave some to Amiah and helped four other people, two with pick-ups and a couple motorcycles. They had kids.”
As they were heading back home. Koleks and Amiah stopped at the Road Ranger in Elk Run Heights for a break.
Strange, but true, Koleks saw Bruce and Carla Fortney of Lime Springs picking up their two grandsons from their son, who lives in Cedar Rapids. Kyle had no electricity and possibly wouldn’t for the next two weeks. Parents to the rescue as they are keeping the boys until conditions improve in central Iowa.
Bruce said, “Kyle called and said it took him 45 minutes to get his oldest son (age six) from school. He had to drive around and then around a different way and another way. He finally got a call from the school that said he could pick him up at a certain spot. He still had to find a way there and ended up walking part of the way.”
Kyle has some damage, but nothing serious — trees down and roof damage. He said it can all be rebuilt.
[Editor’s Note: The above three tidbits are another example of it being a small world!]
Darrell and Cindy Knecht of Elma had an emotional day on Monday. Their daughter, Amber and Joe Nietert and two boys, sent a text message, “I love you guys so much!” No explanation. Nothing else. 
“The first thing I thought was that she was having a bad day. Then she got hold of Cindy, and Cindy got hold of me! I went home, changed clothes, and we took off!”
Amber and her family had just gotten through the derecho.
Amber and the boys had gone school shopping. “When she was checking out, she saw it was getting dark. When they walked outside, the wind was really blowing. She said the wind nearly knocked her down,” Darrell said. Amber made the boys get down and covered them with blankets or anything available. She thought the car would roll over.
They made it through the storm, but then they had to make it home. “It’s a normal 20-minute drive home,” Darrell explained. “It took them two hours. They would go down a road and get blocked, then they’d get blocked again and again.”
When the trio got to their acreage north of Marion, they learned Joe had weathered the storm in the basement. He came home for lunch and noticed it was getting windier and windier. When he saw insulation whipping by the windows, he figured it was theirs, and he found shelter. Even in the basement he could feel the whole house shaking and the duct work making knocking noises.
Darrell figured the shelves in Marion and Cedar Rapids would be bare, so he stopped in Waterloo. The tarps were almost gone, but he got enough to get by. “People were already looking over the two generators that were on the floor.”
“Amber and I put four tarps over the roof. It covered the holes and bare spots. By the time we were done, it was close to dark, and Cindy and I took off for home.”
The rest of the family helped remove brush and branches from the property.
Besides taking a section of the northwest corner of the roof off, Nieterts had a lot of tree damage. They are currently sleeping in the basement since most of their upstairs was water logged.
Darrell added, “Everyone was lucky. Even with all their damage, it was less than what Cindy and I saw driving down and back.”
Chanda and Lance Mooney of Marion thought they could get by without help from Mom, Pat Bouska, but found out the loss of electricity was just too big of a burden for their children, Jacob and Lexi.
They brought the kids to Protivin to stay for awhile with Grandma. They also brought their frozen meat.
Bouska said, “I was watching TV on Monday when I saw something go across the screen about a storm hitting Cedar Rapids in 20 minutes. Since Tuesday was Chanda’s first day of school, I figured they were out shopping. I called her. They were at the mall. She asked, ‘What do I do?’ I told her I didn’t know.”
About that time, employees at the mall took everyone to cover. They provided masks for those who didn’t have any and asked shoppers to maintain a six-foot distance. They also took names and addresses of everyone just in case. When they came up, Chanda wasn’t sure what she would find. It was relatively fine, although the kids had been very scared.
Bouska added, “It took them forever to get home because of trees and power lines. When they got home, someone had to get something out of the car and when they shut the door, the glass broke.”
The family’s trampoline was secured, but ended up 3-4 houses away. 
Mooneys had plans to bring their clothes to Bouska’s house over the weekend since they didn’t have power.
Stacie Marzen, who lives in Vinton, did not get much damage to buildings but had about 15 trees go down on her acreage on Monday. She and Shane and four kids were without power, which resulted in no well water.
Who did she call? Dad and Mom. “All within about an hour’s time before leaving for Vinton from Elma, they got four generators loaded in their truck, filled up with gas (there was a gas shortage in the stricken area) and were headed our way.
“Elma Fire & Rescue helped out with loaning theirs out along with other firemen’s. We had some going to Cedar Rapids, Vinton and Shellsburg.” All who received one had childhood roots from Elma. 
Friedhoffs stopped in Waterloo to grab more bottled water and sweet treats for the grandkids. 
Marzen added, “When they stopped in Waterloo, some guy came up to them in the parking lot and wanted to buy a generator from them.” 
On Wednesday, her father-in-law, David Fangman, drove down with his truck and chainsaw. “Every tree on our acreage is hickory, very hard wood to cut through. David did lots of pulling logs with his truck. 
“We still have more work to do with cutting and burning piles. There’s people around us who sustained much worse damage than us. We’re thankful our home is intact and we’re safe.  Love our family and community!”
Karen Kuhn of Cresco was at work at St. Marys in Rochester when she got a text from daughter Mary, “How are you guys? We got hit.”
Mom said, “Mary and Paul [Wilkins] were at work. She was in Ames when the sirens went off. She learned it was winds and not a tornado. When she was going back to her office in Nevada, she saw things tossed around.” 
The computers and electricity were not working, so she went to pick up the kids (ages 3-12). They were in the basement at the babysitter’s.
Karen added, “As she got closer to home [Colo, near Ames], trees were on houses and buildings were down. The kids’ anxiety was high. Mary explained she didn’t know what they would find. When they got out of the car, the first thing the kids checked on were the animals, which were fine.”
The sheds were fine as well, but one room in the house was totally destroyed by a tree.
Mary told the kids, “We’re going to go in, have a snack and then start to clean up.”
When the storm went through, Paul was holding onto the frame of a door. He is a part-time first responder and firefighter, so he was unable to help his own family at first, but he was able to explain how to turn on the generator.
On Tuesday, Karen went with her mother, Darlene Gebel to an appointment in Waterloo. Afterwards, they decided to head south. “Mary didn’t know we were coming. When she came around the side of the house, you could just see her relax.” Mom had come to the rescue.
Friends had also showed up and took the tree on the house down piece by piece to preserve as much of the structure as they could.
Karen said there was so much community support in people helping to move trees and more. The local Casey’s offered to deliver pizza and water to those in need.
The Wilkins house’s sun room was destroyed. The windows shattered and glass was embedded in the walls. Karen noted that will be hard to clean up. Another tree was twisted from the force of the winds.
On Thursday, Kuhns and Gebel drove down again to help clean up some more.
Shelley Flack, formerly of Cresco, lives near Belle Plaine. Her husband is a hired hand. She said, “The property we live on lost the hog barn, grain and feed bins, outside sheds, and the crops are 90% gone. Our house has shingles missing and outer window pane glass broken.”
The family also had vehicle damage, and their horse trailer has broken windows and scrapes and dents.
Her mom and stepdad, Michelle and Kevin Weidow, answered her call for help and went down over the weekend to help clean up. Flack said, “Otherwise, we have only had friends and my husband’s mom and sisters and neighbors helping.”
Pat Ruffridge shared, “I was just sitting around, and I got a text out of the blue, ‘We’re all OK. The house is bad.’ That came from daughter Amanda (Brad) Trask of Shellsburg.”
Both mother and daughter’s phones were sketchy, but pictures finally came through of the damage done to the Trask’s home.
During the storm, Amanda and Brad hunkered in the bathroom downstairs. “She said it was loud and scary. The wind noises and broken glass noises were scary.”
Big brothers can come to the rescue as well in times of need.
After hearing the news, Nathan Schwickerath stocked his pickup with two generators and headed south with a friend.
In addition, Brad’s dad came to the rescue with another generator, skid loader and a couple chainsaws.
They found a tree that fell on the house and all the insulation got wet. All the ceilings are wet. Several windows blew in, one of them blew out because of the pressure.
Mom Pat made her trip to Shellsburg on Tuesday. They were running fans to try to dry out the rooms and run the refrigerator and freezer.
Pat figures between the neighbors and family, there were 10-12 people who got the yard cleaned up by Tuesday night.
Boys need their dads, too.
The beginning of the week is busy for Larry Leliefeld of Geothermal Eco Options of Cresco. “But if I see a phone call from family, I always answer it.” On Monday he got a call from his son Keegan of Cedar Rapids.
It was an interesting conversation.
Keegan: What kind of insurance coverage does your car have?
Larry: What are you trying to say?
Keegan: The winds are 100 miles per hour. Do I have to move the car?
Larry: Don’t worry about the car. Protect yourself. Go into a center room or the basement.
Keegan went into the house. As he and his roommate were looking out the window, they watched a great big limb blowing down the street. Then it headed for their cars, which were parked side-by-side. 
Larry said, “The limb tumble-weeded over Keegan’s car and hit his roommate’s car and put a dent in it!”
After the storm blew over, Keegan, who was an offensive lineman for Coe College for four years, got together with the rest of the football team and pitched in to help clean up trees and more. He then went home to Decorah, so he could work remotely.
When Paul Polashek got a call from son Eric, who lives in northeast Cedar Rapids, he gathered up three generators, two chainsaws and partner in crime, Brad Linderbaum.
Judy Polashek didn’t go, but she heard all about the trip. “Eric had been at work. When he got home, he had to park four blocks away because of the debris. A tree had fallen on his house and a limb went through a window.”
When the Protivin boys went down they saw trees uprooted everywhere. On Thursday, Paul was to make deliveries for the Locker in that area. He didn’t know what he would find since many of the businesses never answered their call — perhaps they were closed, or perhaps the phones weren’t working.
There were lots of family members and friends who came to the rescue of their loved ones over the past week. It has been said over and over on the news reports around the country that when the going gets tough, that’s when you know how lucky you are to live in Iowa.

Cresco Times

Phone: 563-547-3601
Fax: 563-547-4602

Cresco TPD
214 N. Elm Street
Cresco, IA 52136

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