IOWA DERECHO 2020

Marion orchard loses more than 800 trees in derecho

Residents slowly cleaning up, waiting on power

MARION — Many Marion homeowners lost trees Monday, but at Allen’s Orchard, losing trees means losing business.

The orchard, at 5801 N. 10th St., lost a sizable portion of its 3,200 trees, owner Chris Gensicke said Thursday.

“We stopped counting at 800,” he said.

On Thursday, Gensicke partnered with Trees Forever in bringing a half-dozen teenagers to the orchard to save as many trees as possible.

“We’ve been out here working, doing what we can. We’ve saved about 400 so far,” Gensicke said.

The students, from Kennedy and Xavier high schools, went row by row, straightening trees that showed some hope and tying them up to keep them standing. The students are art of a division of the Boy Scouts called Venture Crew 2000.

“When we first got started here at the orchard, the Venture Crew planted a lot of these trees back then and 10 years later, the next generation is here saving them,” Gensicke said.

Zack Pisney, a Xavier sophomore, said Thursday’s work was meaningful.

“It makes me put other things in perspective,” Pisney said. “You see all this damage. This business was affected greatly.”

Gensicke said it’s heartbreaking to see the damage to the orchard.

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“That’s 10 years of hard work and summers gone, overnight,” he said. “It’s not easy.”

The unfortunate thing about fruit trees is they take four to five years to reach full production, he said.

To replant will cost tens of thousands of dollars, he said.

“My prayer is people continue to come out and support us,” he said.

Gensicke said the orchard has three generators, running a cooler to keep apples fresh.

All the apples on damaged trees have to be stripped off so the trees put less energy into the apples and more energy into surviving.

He said orchard staffers will be making pies, doughnuts and other baked goods from the fruit in the near future.

“A lot of families were looking to do good COVID activities, and this was one of them,” he said. “We’re going to do our best to bring fresh fruit and baked goods to people.”

Dave Blankenship, Trees Forever Chairman said he hasn’t even worked on his own home yet.

“That’s a mess,” he said. “But that stuff isn’t going to go anywhere. This is a chance to come out here and show kids how to do something.”

Other damage

Most of Marino remained without electrical power Thursday night. Some sections temporarily regained power during the day, only to lose it again.

Kendal Krahl, 47, said he has been cleaning up the multiple fallen trees on his property since Monday.

“It’s astonishing,” he said as he sat on a giant log in his front yard in southeast Marion. “It’s just so widespread, it’s crazy. We went up to Manchester this week just to get some gas. It’s unreal.”

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Like Krahl’s front yard, almost every street in town is lined with masses of fallen trees. Nearby, at the Grand View Apartments on Grand Avenue, one of the buildings is missing a large chunk of its roof, exposing the top-level apartments.

In Uptown Marion, City Square Park was still covered in fallen trees on Thursday, including some that fell on the historic train depot. Wit’s End Coffeehouse across from the park is missing its roof.

Across town, multiple side streets are still blocked by fallen trees and downed wires and utility poles.

The Marion Village had a few tipped-over mobile homes; a couple of houses around town were crushed by trees. Many homes have tarps on their roofs, with fences blown over.

First-time homeowner Aaron House, 25, had a tree fall on his garage and over his house, which he has lived for a couple years.

“The garage was a total loss,” he said. “I had a couple of decent punctures in my roof.”

Figuring out what to do next is hard.

“I’ve been trying to figure out the right steps to take and who to get ahold of,” he said. “Once you know how to get ahold of someone, you still can’t, due to no power or phone service. I’m on a couple of lists now for getting a tree service out here, but I don’t know when.”

Marilyn Sippy, 84, said she had been hauling a lot of branches from her property this week.

“I had some help from a gentleman with a chain saw, but I must admit I did the whole section at the end of my driveway by hand,” Sippy said.

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Sippy’s home still had a backyard tree leaning against it and her backyard is covered by a jungle of branches.

Comments: (319) 398-8255; gage.miskimen@thegazette.com

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