Responding to Iowa Derecho

August 20, 2020

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Iowa Derecho
© National Weather Service

For Iowans—both those who live in the state and those like me who grew up there—the second week of August represents a time to come together at the Iowa State Fair to celebrate the best in agriculture, industry, entertainment, and achievement. Instead, this year Iowans are coming together to clear debris, salvage homes and businesses, and figure out how to recover from a rare derecho that ravaged the state with 112 mph force winds and rain. 

A federal disaster declaration has been approved for the state along with the request of nearly $4 billion in disaster relief aid from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The National Guard Bureau has activated and a number of nonprofits are on the ground. 

However, the needs are going to be greater than the resources currently available can support, and the economic impact of the 37 million acres of farmland that were flattened are yet to be realized. Challenges from the storm continue to exist across the state, including power outages, debris removal, ensuring shelter for disaster victims, as well as access to food and water for those displaced. 

The business community is providing support, including assistance from local establishments like Willie Ray's Q Shack that has become a local hero; Sukup Manufacturing, in partnership with IowaLove.org and the Carson King Foundation; and in-kind donations and monetary donations from corporations like UPS, Wells Fargo, and Hy-Vee.

If you are looking to support the response, here are a few national and local organizations to consider:

  • American Red Cross in Iowa – To date, has provided more than 2,000 overnight stays through emergency hotel lodgings and shelters, in addition to meals, emergency supplies, and financial assistance.
  • EMBARC – Supporting the refugee community in Iowa, which has be once again displaced by the derecho.
  • Good360 – Aiding the recovery process by deploying needed goods via their nonprofit and response agency partners on the ground.
  • Greater Cedar Rapids Community Foundation – Providing relief and recovery funding across the greater Cedar Rapids regional area. 
  • Marion Chamber Foundation – Supporting economic recovery locally. 
  • Operations BBQ – Has so far served more than 25,000 meals. 
  • Sarmatian’s Purse – Providing care in Tama and Linn Counties. 
  • Team Rubicon USA – Supporting debris removal in Linn, Marshall, and Tama Counties. 
  • The Salvation Army – Providing mobile care units and supporting debris removal. 
  • United Way of East Central Iowa – Collecting funds and volunteers to support relief efforts in eastern Iowa. 

Iowans have proven their resilience time and time again through flooding and tornado events often seen in the Midwest, and will continue to be resilient following this derecho. Few, however, would have ever expected to also be recovering from a hurricane-like storm in a landlocked state. Support is needed now to help with the recovery, but we must also look to the future in preparing for unexpected extreme weather events. 

For any questions or information on how to help, please reach out at bnelson@uschamber.com