CEDAR RAPIDS — John Hebrink couldn’t have known what the significance of his "Iowa Hawkeyes — United to Fight" T-shirt would mean Monday when he put it on that morning.
Longtime Hawkeyes supporter Hebrink found visitors on his derecho-punished southeast Cedar Rapids property Monday who were there to support him. They included Iowa football players Spencer Daufeldt, Keith Duncan, Tyler Linderbaum and Austin Schulte, and Hawkeye football assistant coach LeVar Woods.
Not far away in the southeast Cedar Rapids neighborhood helping others were Iowa women’s basketball assistant coach Jan Jensen, football assistant coach Kelvin Bell, and athletics department executive director of diversity, equity and inclusion Broderick Binns.
They were part of a crew of a few dozen people from different walks of life who were hastily assembled Sunday by Josh Schamberger, president of the Iowa City/Coralville Area Convention & Visitors Bureau.
The Hawkeyes and their crewmates raised Hebrink’s long metal fence that had been toppled by the storm of a week earlier, then sawed and moved fallen tree trunks and branches that covered his sidewalk and forced pedestrians to walk on busy 19th Street SE.
“I’d been waiting for enough people to do this,” said Hebrink, who said he had two cars wrecked by the derecho. “This is great.”
Daufeldt and Schulte worked chain saws like maestros. The others got in a full day’s workout lifting and moving wood to curbsides. Cutting and clearing, cutting and clearing.
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The day began at 8 a.m. at Oak Hill Cemetery, where the women and men of the crew cleared tree-clogged roadways. From there, they went into a nearby neighborhood and did tree surgery for random people, including someone who wasn’t home.
In the afternoon, the group helped with a portion of the imposing cleanup job needed at 26-acre historical site Brucemore. There, 70 percent of the trees, many a century old, were wiped out.
The sight of Cedar Rapids was a Monday morning eye-opener to the crew.
“To be honest, I was a little naive as to what was going on in Cedar Rapids,” Woods said. “We had power outages in Iowa City and our own things going on with football. Finally when I got a chance to read about and see what was going on here, I was looking for an opportunity to come help.”
“We live 20 minutes away,” Jensen said. “We had some devastation, but nothing like here.
“It’s trite and a cliché, but we really are in this together. We wanted to show support and truly be a caring neighbor. I’m just grateful we can help.”
Duncan, the All-America kicker from North Carolina, said “From four years in Iowa I can tell Iowans love helping Iowans. Being part of the community, it’s almost our responsibility to be here. I’m excited for it.”
These people didn’t come here for attention. There are all sorts of other volunteers from near and far in Cedar Rapids and Iowa right now, donating time and resources. The Hawkeyes here blended in without causing a stir, and seemed to prefer it that way.
“This is not just a one-and-done,” Jensen said. “We’ll be here.”
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