IOWA DERECHO 2020

Eastern Iowa Airport mostly operational after derecho storm

No injuries or damage to planes reported

CEDAR RAPIDS — The Eastern Iowa Airport has commercial and private flight traffic and a functioning terminal despite losing power and experiencing storm damage in Monday’s derecho storm.

No one at the airport suffered injury, and there was no reported damage to aircraft. The airport closed for about an hour during the storm, airport director Marty Lenss said, but the airport “was back to normal operations” by 2 p.m. Monday.

The terminal is mostly functional, including the TSA checkpoint, Wi-Fi network and one set of restrooms in the gate area. Some lighting, including over the security checkpoint, will not be on until commercial power is restored.

“Most people walking through the terminal really won’t notice the difference,” Lenss said. “I’d say 90 percent of our terminal is operating.”

The storm caused significant damage to the airport’s public safety building and maintenance building, though. The perimeter fence, baggage carts, hangars and vehicles in the parking lot also were damaged.

Lenss said it’s too early to have a cost estimate, but “it’s going to be expensive.” That’s unwelcome news for the airport, which already has seen a decline in flight traffic.

“I think there are a lot of us that are exhausted with the year 2020,” Lenss said. “The storm, COVID, it’s just been a really rough year for a lot of people.”

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One Frontier Airlines flight attempted boarding during the storm before travelers and crews returned to a lower level of the terminal.

“That airplane did not sustain any damage,” Lenss said. “It certainly did a delay the flight departure, understandably, but it departed later that afternoon.”

Some planes were diverted coming into The Eastern Iowa Airport because of the storm.

Lenss is thankful the damage wasn’t worse.

“It’s property damage,” Lenss said. “That’s insured, so it can be fixed. No injuries to people is our first priority.”

Comments: (319) 398-8394; john.steppe@thegazette.com

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