Our Iowa Derecho Story

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I know it’s getting old to hear, but 2020 has been quite the year hasn’t it? I can’t believe it’s only been a month since the derecho came through our small town and really effected Iowa, but we are finally going back to some sort of normalcy. I wanted to share our experience since not many people quite realize how damaging this really was, and I can only hope that it may not happen again.

I woke up early to finish some work for clients that day at around 6:30 am, it was dark out, but it was busy season at work so I was used to it being dark when I started my day. A couple hours went by and my husband called me. He does route delivery/sales in Iowa, and so he was hitting the storms before we did a little while later. He asked me how it was here, I hadn’t noticed anything until I went to the window and noticed it was even darker than it was this morning.

Like everyone else, I didn’t think too much of the storms, even after the storm siren went off. We needed the rain anyway after how dry it’s been, right? Luckily I decided to go ahead and move the car into the garage, which was my best decision of the day by far.

11:00 rolls around, the power flickered, so I messaged some other in-town co-workers if they had the same thing happen. After that last message sent, I couldn’t get any sort of service or contact anyone for at least two hours. Power was out, signal kept getting worse and worse, of course I didn’t charge my personal cell phone, so I was only at 20%.

As the winds picked up, I quickly grabbed our tiny patio set and a couple potted plants and practically threw them inside as the curtain kept slapping me around until I could get the door closed. After that I grabbed my laptop, cell phones, a snack, and took our dog down to the basement to hide.

A little while passed (cuddling my dog and refreshing my phone), winds were moving fast and trees were snapping upstairs. I finally got the courage to peak at the top of my stairs to see what was going on, but all I really could see out of our windows were trees. Our pine covering up our living room window view, the ash tree up against the kitchen window, and seeing it completely knocked over and blocking our entire driveway…..yikes!

It seemed at this point things were slowing down, some neighbors starting venturing out to assess the damage. Our poor neighbors tree feel on their daughters car, shingles were strewn about, street signs bent, and damaged trees and tree limbs everywhere.

Our driveway completely blocked by our Ash tree.
Again, our completely blocked driveway! Notice the old chevy to the right? Somehow missed all damage!
It was like someone came along our street and cut the tops off all the pines, and was at that point leaning completely on the house.
So many branches weren’t even from our own trees, having the corner lot blew in lots tree debris.

It was interesting how different people reacted after it happened. Some neighbors immediately started cleaning everything up, hacking up trees into manageable pieces and moving them off of cars and houses if reasonable. After taking these couples pictures, I went back inside and felt paralyzed and trapped about the whole situation.

What do you do after a derecho with no cell service? I was able to occasionally make phone calls, and my husband told me to call a tree removal service, but I couldn’t even google any places to make that call. What do I do with all these branches? Will the city take them? How am I supposed to get out of the driveway? How will I eat with no fridge or car access?

After sitting there watching neighbors drag branches to the curb for about an hour, I finally gained the strength to go outside and do the same. My other neighbor had some of her daycare kids help move branches and shingles to the curb with me, which honestly meant a lot as I felt so overwhelmed with it all. After getting a good chunk done, many neighbors began to check on each other making sure we were all okay, which I am so lucky to have such thoughtful and kind neighbors.

Yes, I used hedge clippers to make this dent in the tree in order to maaaybe get out of the garage. And sadly I don’t know how to drive the truck (I should get on that)
When your husband and his friend take tree removal into their own hands…and no, it did not hit his truck!
Our small corn patch also got wiped out from the storm. Just a small representation of all the other Iowa corn fields that were destroyed.

Throughout the entire week people offered trailers, chain saws, ropes, rakes, trucks, wi-fi, generators, freezer space, dinner, doughnuts, coffee, chargers, you name it – the city definitely banded together during this rough time. #IowaStrong

The next couple days consisted of the constant sound of chain saws, tree removal, raking, sweating, throwing away food, aaaand finally caving to buy a generator.

So lucky to have our city provide tree removal, almost everything was picked up within two weeks!
We did take some of our own branches and raked up debris to the local dump. It was sad to see that so many old trees that really gave our city its character were all here.

The next week provided its share of obstacles, figuring out what to cook without power or a fridge, attempting to work from home without power or internet, dealing with rising temperatures, and more! Overall though we were truly luckily to not have major home or car damage, and mainly had to worry about removing three trees and replacing our gutters.

Curbs kept on piling up!
Entire power lines down on the ground with trees collapsed on top.

Now a month later, things have finally gone back to some sort of normal. It’s sad to see the damaged and hacked apart trees, my daily walks are sunnier now with how many were removed. You can’t replace the history of old trees overnight. I know it’s corny, but I am very thankful for our city, state, our wonderful neighbors, and all our friends and family who helped along the way. #IowaStrong

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