Derecho storm affects locals

—Some experienced it, others helped in the aftermath
IOWA - On Monday, Aug. 10, a derecho storm system started on the Nebraska/Iowa line heading east, eventually going through northern Illinois and Chicago, before crossing Lake Michigan and northern Indiana — a total of about 770 miles.
A derecho is a wide storm and can last a long time. They cause hurricane-force winds, tornadoes, heavy rains and flash floods.
In some areas of Iowa, 100 mile per hour winds lasted up to 45 minutes and took out power lines, leveled buildings, uprooted trees and flattened crops. 
During a press conference last week, Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds described it as a 40-mile wide tornado, with gusts up to 140 miles per hour. It is estimated 10 million crop acres were destroyed or damaged.
Monday evening, over 550,000 Iowans were without electricity in a state with a population of 3.17 million. That is over one-sixth of the state.
Some electricity was restored quickly, while some areas may wait several weeks for it to be restored.
Line workers
As is customary with an emergency of this size, line crews from across the United States have come to the Midwest to share their workers and make faster work of getting power to those affected.
On Tuesday, Aug. 11, MiEnergy sent three crews, one from Cresco and two from Rushford, for a total of six individuals, to help get power hooked back up. 
The Cresco crew reported to Linn County Rural Electric Cooperative of Marion. The two Rushford crews reported to Maquoketa Valley Electric Cooperative of Anamosa. On Thursday, the crews that were at Maquoketa Valley moved over to Linn County.
On Thursday, one crew each from Cresco and Rushford were sent to help in Linn County.
Wednesday, Linn County had 17,000 out of power. By Thursday, they were down to about 13,600.
Emergency Management
Darrell Knecht, Howard County Emergency Management Coordinator, was asked to help in the storm’s aftermath.
Several years ago, he was able to get a state-owned heavy duty generator. “They came up on Wednesday morning, Aug. 12, to get it and headed to Cedar Rapids.”
In addition, Howard County owns a portable light tower with attached generator. It was used for two weeks in Parkersburg after that town’s May 25, 2008 tornado. 
On Thursday, Aug. 13, he drove to Belle Plaine to deliver the unit.
Knecht has ties with other Emergency Management individuals across the state. He put out the alert that Howard County had a light tower. 
“Belle Plaine in Benton County was the first to call in,” he said. The town hooked the generator up to the grocery store in the center of town and shined the light on the busy intersection by the community center and fire station. “Without the tower, the town was pitch dark.
“The trip down there . . .  the damage to farmer’s fields and grain bins . . . it’s unbelievable.”
Local businesses
The local hardware stores received lots of inquiries about generators. Robert White of Ruppert’s Ace Hardware said, “On Tuesday, the phone rang all day of people wanting generators. We only have two for rent, and they are in Cedar Rapids area.”
Janelle Regan of Fisk Farm & Home noted, “Our Monona store has been busiest since it is closer to the storm area.” They have been cleaned out of generators and gas cans.”
Many of the home improvement box stores as far north as Rochester have been bought out of generators.
Local experience
On Monday, Connie Richter of Lime Springs had been visiting her daughter, Mychelle, in Illinois and stopped at the Coral Ridge Mall in Coralville on her way home.
She was just making her way to the atrium in the store when all the signs were sucked off the wall. “They hussled us back to the break room. There were at least  23 customers and eight employees in the room. I didn’t know what was going on. When I looked out the door, it was black outside.
“The employees were being very careful. They brought us snacks and water.” One of Richter’s co-shoppers was looking at his phone and was going to go help his daughter.
When the storm passed, the parking lot was strewn with leaves and debris and shopping carts were scattered all over. From the mall until she got out of the Cedar Rapids area, Richter saw 22 semi trailers tipped over, as well as three other vehicles. She also saw many downed trees. “It was like a giant had squished them like a bug.”
helping neighbors
Pictures of the damage were all over social media. Some who grew up in Howard County were in the midst of the storm’s path.
In Shellsburg, relatives and neighbors rushed down to help. They were back in force over the weekend. At noon, the townsfolk gathered at the small grocery store for free pizza and drinks. 
A little later, the ice truck made it to town to replenish the convenience store. The driver didn’t even have time to take it inside. Locals just grabbed the bags off the pallet.
Driving around, half the trees had blown over and were slowly being removed by owners, with strangers pitching in to help. 
Some houses lucked out with just a few shingles taken off. Others weren’t so lucky. A brand new house by the golf course had its entire roof blown off.
Monday, the town was still out of electricity.
Some neighborhoods in Cedar Rapids had boulevards full of branches and entire trees waiting to be picked up. Some trees couldn’t be touched because power lines were entwined through their limbs.
It will take a while for central Iowa to clean up from this massive storm, but many are shouting loud and long #IowaStrong.  
See more pictures of damage on the back page.

Cresco Times

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

Cresco TPD
214 N. Elm Street
Cresco, IA 52136

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