Responding to the Derecho in Iowa

The powerful storm packed 70 mph sustained winds and spawned 17 tornadoes across nine states.


Disaster Response

A man works to clear his yard in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Photo credit: AP Images

On August 10, 2020, a straight-line storm called a “derecho” raked across 770 miles of the central U.S. with Category 4 hurricane-force winds. World Renew Disaster Response Services (DRS) is responding to the catastrophic storm, coordinating with Christian Reformed and other churches and organizations in the Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and surrounding area.

The powerful storm packed 70 mph sustained winds and spawned 17 tornadoes across nine states. Eastern Iowa was particularly hard hit, with estimated gusts of 130 mph that affected 27 counties. In all, the derecho caused the deaths of four people, damaged 8,000 homes, destroyed 14 million acres of crops, and cut power to 70,000 households.

Disaster Response Services Regional Volunteer Managers Pat and Rich Grasman traveled through Tama County and Cedar Rapids, Iowa, last week to assess needs and make contacts, including members of Peace Christian Reformed Church and Pastor Gary Brouwers. Local and government responses have reportedly been slow because of COVID-19 restrictions, but food, water, and roof tarps, and clean up are survivors’ most immediate needs.

“The derecho is hitting Iowa farmers particularly hard,” said Bob Laarman, director for World Renew DRS, “including families who attend Peace CRC and other area churches. This summer’s corn crop, which was about ready to harvest, was flattened and barns and silos collapsed. World Renew DRS is working on plans to coordinate 1-day volunteers in Cedar Rapids, and we are accepting donations for fall storm response.”

Pat and Rich Grasman also report that 70 percent of low-income housing in Cedar Rapids and the surrounding area was damaged or destroyed by the storm, and several hundred immigrant and refugee families were displaced.

Please pray for the families and farmers affected by the storm, for Christian Reformed and area churches that are affected. Also pray for DRS staff and volunteers and all disaster responders, as the coronavirus pandemic greatly complicates how to help.

World Renew DRS director Bob Laarman and other staff will travel to Iowa at the end of August to determine the role for 1-day volunteers. If you live in Iowa and are interested in assisting with the World Renew DRS response in September, please contact Chris Gibson at 800-848-5818 or email [email protected] to indicate your availability.

World Renew DRS is accepting donations for the derecho storm response in Iowa.


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