IOWA DERECHO 2020

Instead of practice, it's pickup for Cedar Rapids Kennedy football players after storm

Cougars clean up their practice field; CRCSD activities are closed through the remainder of the week

Mitchell Schares (left) and Deven Williams take turns chopping a tree limb while volunteering with other members of the
Mitchell Schares (left) and Deven Williams take turns chopping a tree limb while volunteering with other members of the Cedar Rapids Kennedy varsity football team to clean storm debris from the practice fields Wednesday. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)

CEDAR RAPIDS — Giuseppe Gianforte won’t break any Kennedy High School lifting records.

“I’m not the strongest guy in the weight room, but I’m strong in the real world,” he said.

Right now, in these parts, the real world isn’t real great.

Eastern Iowa bore the brunt of Monday’s storm, and recovery will be a long process. Gianforte was one of more than 40 football players from Cedar Rapids Kennedy who were picking up debris from their practice field.

The Cedar Rapids Community School District has closed all activities through the remainder of the week, so all congregation for high school athletes will be service, not practice.

Kennedy football players took Monday and Tuesday to help their families and neighbors before uniting at the school at 4 p.m. Wednesday.

“The kids have been working hard,” Coach Brian White said. “They just wanted to be together for a while. They’re doing something good for their school and their town.”

“It’s nice to have everybody together, doing some manly work,” Gianforte said.

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By 5 p.m., most of the debris — mainly from trees — had been taken from the practice field, directly west of the school, to a pile at the northwest corner of the complex. The track that encircled the field was being swept off.

Gianforte is a self-described “fan of severe weather,” and videotaped as the storm came in.

“I went downstairs when it got really bad, then I came back up to see the damage,” he said. “We had some tree damage, but no house damage.”

As the sky darkened Monday, Brody Lovell said, “It came up all of a sudden. I figured it was just going to be rain. I had no idea this was coming. The stuff in the backyard came down, tree by tree.”

U.S. history teacher and assistant athletics director at Kennedy, White indicated that it will be a long while before the high school building is safe and ready for students and staff.

“It’s bad in there,” he said.

Comments: (319) 368-8857; jeff.linder@thegazette.com

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