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Agricultural storage and processing structures including grain bins, elevators, and dryers in w:Marion, Iowa damaged or destroyed by high winds of the w:August 2020 Midwest derecho.
Agricultural storage and processing structures in Marion, Iowa damaged or destroyed by high winds of the derecho. | Photo from The National Weather Service

Iowa residents in need following ‘land hurricane’

Susan Johnston called the storm that hit Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Aug. 10, a “land hurricane.”

The National Weather Service characterizes it as a derecho (pronounced similar to “deh-REY-cho”) — a widespread, long-lived wind storm associated with rapidly moving showers or thunderstorms.

The derecho, with winds of 140 mph, tore through Cedar Rapids, destroying many homes and leaving tens of thousands of residents without power.

A corn field at sunset flattened by the high winds of the derecho.

A corn field at sunset flattened by the high winds of the derecho.

Johnson, founder, president and executive director of Central Furniture Rescue in Cedar Rapids, said apartment complexes were demolished and many low-income houses left in ruins. And because of the eviction moratorium during the coronavirus pandemic, landlords have not had rent since March.

Related: Sharing faith and furniture in Iowa

“How will they ever afford to clean it up,” Johnston said. “It’s devastating.”

While derechos are unfamiliar in most parts of the country, in Iowa the storms are considered to be as common as hurricanes in Florida.

Two weeks after the derecho hit, more than 1,300 residents were still without power, and 12,000 Mediacom customers were without internet according to the Cedar Rapids Gazette.

Iowans are fierce and strong, Johnson said: “We take care of each other.”

Johnston also knows a lot of people will be needing furniture. And CFR will be there for them.

Susan Johnston

Susan Johnston

Iowans are fierce and strong, Johnson said: “We take care of each other.”

Disaster recovery organizations are in town now, linemen have come in from all over the country but will soon be leaving residents to continue clean-up and recovery on their own.

CFR is entirely volunteer run, and most inventory is donated, but it still has operational expenses and also must purchase some items such as bed frames, box fans, bedding and household items when donations don’t match needs. About 10 percent of CFR’s support is provided by the Central Church of Christ, but Johnston says the ministry needs about $5,000 per month in donations to cover operating expenses and purchased essentials.

To support the work of Central Furniture Rescue, go to: https://centralfurniturerescue.com/donate or Facebook.com/centralfurniturerescue

Filed under: Cedar Rapids Iowa Central Furniture Rescue derecho high winds National Top Stories

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