Iowa colleges, universities continue storm-damage assessment as delays mount

Mount Mercy: 'Please pause your return to campus'

Kirkwood Community College and Mount Mercy University have closed their respective campuses. Coe College, after going days without power, is blinking back to life. Cornell College remains without power and in cleanup mode.

And the University of Iowa and Iowa State University are continuing to assess the damage from Monday’s storm, even as they ramp up for the start of the fall semester — which, at ISU, arrives Monday and for UI begins Aug. 24.

Damaged buildings on the UI campus include the Main Library, water plant, university services building and the green house at Biology Building East, according to UI Facilities Management.

Although the UI electrical system didn’t lose power, a few buildings serviced by outside providers did.

Iowa State was in the middle of moving in thousands of students to its residence halls when the storm swept through — creating delays in a process already made more complicated by coronavirus-mitigation measures.

Required testing was temporarily halted and postponed. Schedule move-in shifts were bumped.

As of Tuesday afternoon, power had been restored to Iowa State’s darkened College of Veterinary Medicine; Wallace, Wilson and Buchanan residence halls; Schilletter Village and most of University Village.

And by Tuesday night, the Veterinary Diagnostic Lab was working to process delayed COVID-19 samples from move-in, with expectations results from those tested Monday and Tuesday would be back by noon Thursday.

Mount Mercy

Mount Mercy University in Cedar Rapids sustained “significant damage” from Monday’s derecho.

“All students and employees are advised to stay home until further notice,” according to a message on its website.

Student-athletes were supposed to begin moving in Wednesday through Friday, with first-year and returning students scheduled to move in Aug. 20-22. But move-in “is delayed until further notice,” according to the Mount Mercy update.

“So please pause your return to campus,” officials requested Tuesday, noting power and cellphone service were still out. “Residence Life staff will be in contact with you, and they are working with students currently on campus to ensure safe living and dining accommodations.”

Mount Mercy’s summer session was supposed to end Thursday, and the fall semester is supposed to begin Aug. 26. But in a Wednesday morning message on its Facebook page, Mount Mercy reported the summer 2020 session had been “extended indefinitely” and that more information is forthcoming.

Coe College

Coe College, about a mile down the road, was scrambling Wednesday to get its power, internet and phone service back — reporting much improvement and restored power in many buildings, although others remained dark.

“We do not know when power will be restored to the remainder of campus,” according to a Coe update on its Facebook page. “Move-in and COVID-19 testing appointments scheduled for today and tomorrow are postponed.”

The college will distribute rescheduling information and news about Friday and Saturday planned move-in and testing “as soon as it becomes available.”


Kirkwood Community College announced via Facebook that all its campuses and locations will stay closed through Friday — with plans to reopen Monday. Its classes begin Aug. 24.


And Cornell College in Mount Vernon, also scheduled to resume classes Aug. 24, remained without power and internet Wednesday. More than 100 trees were damaged on that campus, many of which will need to be removed.

Most buildings escaped significant harm, “but the sports center and facilities building have major roof damage and every building has at least some shingles missing,” according to spokeswoman Jill Hawk.

Cornell’s Office of Residence Life reported about 35 students are living on campus right now, and officials are assessing what this storm might mean for the start of the school year.


“We’re thankful for the contractors who’ve been here and for the many, many volunteers who’ve shown up to help,” Facilities Operations Manager Luke Fischer said in a statement.

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