Staff Editorial

Cedar Rapids still devastated from the derecho. Here's how to help

Loyal to Local, Patch Program and Trees Forever are doing crucial recovery work

An uprooted tree in southeast Cedar Rapids after a powerful storm with straight-line winds moved through Iowa on Monday,
An uprooted tree in southeast Cedar Rapids after a powerful storm with straight-line winds moved through Iowa on Monday, Aug. 10, 2020. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)

Thursday marks four months since the derecho ripped through Cedar Rapids and surrounding areas.

The most visible signs of the epic windstorm — dangling power lines and tree limbs, debris stacked shoulder-high on every street — are mostly gone now, thanks to the invaluable contributions of many volunteers and workers. Yet many wounds from the historic Aug. 10 weather event remain raw.

Cedar Rapids still is in recovery, and many could use the community’s support.

The deep and lasting impact is underscored by a recent report showing local businesses suffered more than $130 million in losses due to the derecho.

Much of the property damage is covered by insurance, but lost sales are hard for small businesses to weather, compounded by the pandemic-related economic downturn.

A survey of local businesses found 16 percent reporting job reductions are likely.

Community advocates urge us to spend our holiday shopping dollars at locally owned businesses. The Loyal to Local campaign in Cedar Rapids is promoting “bonds” through loyaltolocalcr.com, which can be redeemed for a greater value next March. It’s a way to offer local shops support now while also staying safely at home during a wave of COVID-19 cases.

Outside the business community, much of the damage on homes has not been repaired. The huge and sudden demand for contractors has led to long delays.

Snow eventually will fall this season, creating a major headache for anyone with malfunctioning windows and gutters from the derecho, not to mention gaping holes in their roofs or walls.

Some homeowners are finding relief from the Patch Program, a collaboration between several local nonprofits, which is helping with repairs and getting homes ready for winter. Donations and volunteers are coordinated through Matthew 25, which is online at hub25.org.

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While it’s no comparison to the humanitarian impact of the storm, the loss of hundreds of trees ravaged our neighborhoods’ natural beauty. It also has a tangible impact on energy consumption and water runoff.

The ReLeaf Initiative led by the city government and Trees Forever is planning to restore the tree canopy. The nonprofit aims to raise several million dollars in donations, which can be made at treesforever.org.

(319) 398-8262; editorial@thegazette.com

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