Some of you may have heard that Iowa took a big hit with storms Monday afternoon. Where I live, we had rain that morning and are completely fine. South of here, it’s an entirely different story.
Our son Buck, along with Lora and kids, live in the area where there is damage. My sister and four of her kids live where the damage was worse. Lora’s parents live a little further south of them and they had damage too. To say it all is a mess is a huge understatement. At this point, they don’t have electricity and don’t know when they might have electricity. Power lines are down in the masses. We had heard it was bad, but until we heard from Buck, we had no idea how bad.
Cell phone service was down so communicating was an issue that made helping really hard.
Monday evening after the storm Buck was able to call and we made plans for me to find a generator for him. I went to Kalissa’s house and both Craig and Kalissa called and called to find a generator. We finally found one at Tractor Supply in Rochester Minnesota which is just under two hours north of me. Buck is two hours south of me. There were none that we could find closer. So we asked them to reserve it and I’d go in the morning and get it. That’s when I thought of my sister and her family. I checked on them and after some back and forth figured out that they needed generators. She has five adult children and four of them needed generators….so now my hunt was to find FIVE generators. I reserved the biggest one for us as Kramer had long ago badgered me about getting a generator and I always said, “why?” UGH-I should have listened. I knew he would have bought a bigger one. I knew Kramer would have bought a more expensive one. I remember at the time we talked, he thought he would spend $800 so that was what I tried to find for Buck. My sister’s family was hoping to spend around $400 to $500…more or less something to save the refrigerators and freezers in their homes and hopefully at some point, get a shower.
I started out at 6am on Tuesday morning to try to find the five generators I needed.
I made to Tractor Supply shortly before they opened and the minute the door did open, I was in and looking for generators. I got a big one for Buck. I paid for it with the intention that down the road, it will be something I keep here for our family and whoever needs it, can use it. I got one small one. Other than that, they only had $700 ones.
The manager at this store was not very kind at all-rude in fact. I ended up going the several blocks to Fleet Farm where I found three more. At Fleet Farm, they were AWESOME!! I asked where the generators were and they said, “Oh, you must be from Iowa.”
I took the three and there were about 5 more left. I went and paid for them then went around to loading. By the time I got there, the guys in the back said they were sold out of generators. Oh my!!
When I was there I also bought gas cans as there is no way for people in the Cedar Rapids area to get gas…and they need gas for the generators. With no electricity, the pumps won’t run.
So I started my trek back south. It took so long as I had to stop and get gas for the truck and then fill all of the gas cans. I stopped at the farm where Roger worked and got two diesel cans as Buck drives a diesel truck and he didn’t have enough gas to get anywhere to get gas…then to the bank to get cash for him as the ATMs don’t work either.
Then back on the road. I got a half hour south of me and topped the tank on the truck knowing I couldn’t get gas south of me and didn’t know what was ahead. I decided to order pizza in the next town ahead at the Caseys. Without electricity, at Buck’s, I wondered what they might eat and thought pizza hot or cold might be a treat. I got to the gas station to pick up the pizza and found this.
See that LONG line of cars. All were waiting to get to the gas station and there was no way I could get in. I ended up driving on, then called Caseys and apologized telling them there was no way to get into the station to pick up the pizza.
As I kept traveling the gas station we always stop at had a huge line up too. This wrapped around the rural store as people waited and waited for gas. It was crazy.
I got into Cedar Rapids and my jaw dropped and stayed dropped. It was devastating. I travel down Collins road to get to my sister’s house. It is the main big road through Cedar Rapids. Not a stop worked. It’s the biggest shopping area in Cedar Rapids. There wasn’t a car in the parking lots. Signs were down. Trees were down. Debris was everywhere. So many of the houses along the road had trees on top of them. The damage was everywhere.
My sister actually lives in Marion a suburb and as I pulled on to her street. I was shocked. It is a main road in and out of Marion and it was single lane traffic. A roof had blown off a neighboring house and took out two power poles. The poles were lying in the street. 24 hours had passed and no one was doing anything about it. There were so many poles down that these two had zero significance.
My sister had many trees down. They had already been doing a lot of clean up.
Luckily all of the houses of my sister and her children have minimal damage…all of their vehicles are fine.
We are so thankful.
From there it was off to Buck’s. He’s another 1/2 hour south.
Buck had a few trees down but nothing serious. I was treated to time with this boy…Scotty.
..and time with Lilly while Lora was busy. Lucy happened to be sleeping when I snapped a couple of pictures.
I ended up staying at Buck’s longer than expected. Karl went to Buck’s too only drove separately. He was the heavy lifter for Buck.
Here’s Karl showing off the new generator I bought.
Buck was head over heels happy with me. Unknown to me I got a generator that could run on both gasoline or propane. He was tickled as he’s sure he’ll be able to find propane before gasoline.
I left Buck’s at 7pm and got home at 9:15pm. I have Scotty and Lucy. It’s hard to worry about them with no electricity and with things up in the air so I said I’d take them until things calmed down and they had electricity.
So…I have a new appreciation for all you grandma’s out there raising your grandchildren. Hats off to you!!
I’m happy to help and happy to have them here. In the meantime, Buck is out of work. He can’t do his job with no electricity. So he’s helping all of his friends and neighbors…and Lora’s family. Buck is a guy known to have tools, equipment, a strong work ethic, and a strong back so people he knows are calling in some favor cards.
So in short, our family is really up in the air right now. We’re all okay. We’re all safe. We know that is all that matters. We’re all a little discombobulated though. Karl will likely be helping Buck this weekend. I’ll likely have Scotty and Lucy here for an extended period of time. We’re all on call waiting for Buck to call so we can help get whatever he or our extended family need.
Somethings to note:
-the damage in Iowa affects 20 of 99 counties
-Kelli’s friend’s car was totaled and her town was told to not expect electricity for one to two weeks. This is typical.
-in the Cedar Rapids area, one would be hard-pressed to find a home that doesn’t have a tree down or damage. The town is home to 120,000 people including family and friends.
-as I drove home there were places where a mile’s worth of electric poles were down.
-acres and acres of Iowa farmland were completely damaged in the storm.
-grocery stores lost all of there items that were frozen and refrigerated as there was no power for over 12 hours which is their gauge on when to dispose of items.
-the damage is so widespread that it will likely be years and years before everything is repaired or taken care of.
-the storm is called a derecho. It means there are miles and miles of destruction across a wide area.
-winds were straight line from 90-120 miles an hour
A local news anchor wrote this:
“A house in Cedar Rapids is now truly a tree house. But it’s not charming or cool. It’s awful and sad. This tree, according to the neighbors, was 150+ years old. But this isn’t a story about a tree. This is what so many homes look like in Iowa, but unless you live here you likely haven’t a clue.
This is because the national news has largely ignored our disaster.
I’m a member of the media, so I understand the fire hose of news that is 2020. But on Monday we were hit with a storm system called a “derecho.” It’s like a tornado hit whole counties. Our meteorologist clocked wind speeds of 112 miles per hour. That’s like a category two hurricane. In Iowa.
We’ve experienced natural disasters before. During the flood of 2008 the National Guard was here, the President did a tour by sky, the future President did the same. FEMA came to town and people from other states sent help. None of that is happening so far here. And I’m getting worried none of that critical assistance is going to show. WHY?
Because when the national news doesn’t pay attention, neither do the decision-makers. But this derecho has damaged almost every property in a city of more than 130,000 people. And this disaster touched at least 20 counties in Iowa. The magnitude of this is wild.
I work in a newsroom where today an elderly woman called for help to find a shelter with power for her medical device. We don’t have shelter yet. People are begging me for information about where to find gas, how to contact with family members they can’t locate (communication lines are down), and how they can do something as simple as find hot food for their kids.
I have almost no answers.
During the flood of 2008 people were going door to door to check for the injured or trapped. We need that kind of help today but the town of Marion canceled their volunteer coordination due to unsafe conditions. It’s so bad here it’s not safe to help! This is going to be such a heavy lift and we cannot do it alone.
Two school districts that serve a combined 27,000 children have sustained damage to 30+ buildings. They don’t know when they will open. The power grid is so damaged more than 100,000 people have no idea when they’ll get electricity again. The suggestion is “have a plan” to not have power for days. It could be longer.
Spread the news of our disaster. You’re not complaining, you’re getting the kind of attention that results in action.”
I’ll keep you posted. For now, don’t worry about us. We’re doing okay. If I miss a blog post, don’t worry. The kids are likely just demanding some attention.