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Rebuilding From Disaster: Iowa Derecho

Published: Apr. 22, 2021 at 5:26 PM EDT|Updated: Apr. 22, 2021 at 10:40 PM EDT
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(WHSV) - August 10th, 2020 was not just another severe storm rolling through the Iowa countryside.

A line of thunderstorms developed in southeastern South Dakota and northeastern Nebraska. The storms turned so strong that winds reached 140 miles per hour. This line of extreme storms was so powerful and lasted for 14 hours. It was classified as a derecho, the most powerful of severe storms.

The derecho lasted 14 hours, starting in South Dakota and Nebraska and ending in Ohio.
The derecho lasted 14 hours, starting in South Dakota and Nebraska and ending in Ohio.(NWS Chicago)

Cedar Rapids, Iowa was hit extremely hard. The aftermath can still be felt months later. Roofs were ripped off of houses and trees were down everywhere. The farming industry was hit especially hard.

“We are looking at around a fourth of Iowa crops in total corn and soybeans affected by the storm.” “In terms of dollar amount per corn 200 million bushels could be around a billion dollars of lost income,” said David Geiger of Agribusiness Report.

Winter brought delays in the clean-up process. Anything without a roof was open for snow to collect inside.

“The focus right now is really on taking down the trees that are still standing that are hazardous so and that’s taking a little time,” said Jen Winter, public works director of Cedar Rapids.

In the middle of picking up the pieces, Iowans reached out to help others in need this winter. During the deep freeze crisis in Texas, Iowans sprung into action to help others in need.

“As we experienced the derecho back in August, we all felt the love, the support that came across the country as people were bringing in truck loads, van loads, car loads, and plane loads of supplies,” said Raymond Siddell, founder of “Together We Achieve.”

Back in Iowa, waterway and flood plain cleanup started and is expected to be done by this summer.

“It’s not something where you can go back in and kind of get back to what it looked like before even fire years or ten years. I mean we are talking about a generational recovery to get everything back,” said Lon Pluckhahn, city manager of Marion.

Eight months later, the clean-up continues but now severe weather season is here. Many have more nerves after what they experienced last August.

“I’m not scared but I’m just nervous if something like that happens again,” said Tyler Brant, a cedar rapids resident.

With thousands of trees down, a local artist has turned stumps and chopped off trees into works of art.

“A lot of them right now are just stumps in people’s yards and parks that have been around for generations and people don’t want to get rid of them but they still want a memorable piece,” said Clint Henik, chainsaw artist for “Carve R Way.”

The derecho has left scars but progress is being made.

In October, NOAA came out with estimated damages at 11 billion dollars which made the Iowa derecho the most costly thunderstorm in history.

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