116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Coralville, Hills continue to recover after Friday’s tornado outbreak
Also, how residents can access support and how to help those impacted
CORALVILLE — As Eastern Iowa residents recover from Friday’s tornado outbreak, one of the new concerns is clearing debris ahead of another band of storms expected Tuesday.
Continuing to get debris picked up or covered “so that it doesn’t become airborne flying missiles” is the goal before Tuesday’s storms, said Dave Wilson, Johnson County Emergency Management Coordinator. Wilson said a lot of progress has been made already.
“Find safe shelter when the alerts go off (tomorrow),” Wilson said Monday. “There will be debris left from the Friday storms that will be alofted from the new storms. There's no way to prevent that. … Everybody is going to put best effort into that, and we're gonna give it a hard effort, but there's just too much volume.”
The Iowa Department of Transportation is assisting with clean up in Hills and Coralville to speed the process along, Wilson said. He added that some debris from the storm’s path in Keokuk County landed in Johnson County.
The emergency warning sirens were activated six times on Friday for three minutes each, Wilson said. The activations were for the multiple tornado warnings in the area, in addition to thunderstorms and high winds.
Friday’s tornado outbreak left behind widespread damage in Eastern Iowa. The National Weather Service’s Quad Cities bureau confirmed 16 tornadoes as of Monday afternoon. It’s expected the final tornado number will be in the 20s.
At least 11 injuries were reported, with no known fatalities.
Property damage being assessed
Property damage still is being assessed, but Wilson expects between 60 to 80 properties countywide were impacted. All power has been restored in Johnson County as of Sunday evening for structures able to accept power, Wilson said.
Johnson County residents who experienced property damage from the storm are encouraged to self-report at www.crisistrack.com/public/johnsonIA/request.html. This is the first step for potential individual assistance through the state.
Wilson said it was a good thing the Iowa City Community School District had an early dismissal last week and buses were not out on the roads during the storm.
“This is the first time in 17 years I can recall a school district dismissing early for a summer storm,” Wilson said.
Kristin Pedersen, Iowa City schools director of community relations, said, "Staff within each school are working with the students and families who have been impacted by the storm to ensure the proper supports are in place. We are closely monitoring the forecast for tomorrow, keeping an eye on the anticipated timing and severity."
Hills family continues recovery
Jacob Dilks, 28, of Hills, was busy Monday meeting with his insurance agent after a tornado tore the roof off his house in Hills Friday evening. The twister, with winds of up to 120 mph, also pulled out nearly every post in his new vinyl fence, peeled back the walls of his living room and left him without a front porch.
Dilks huddled with wife, Mackenzie; son Owen, 2; and their two dogs in the basement as the storm tore through the neighborhood just east of Highway 218.
“The house is a total loss,” he said Monday. “The foundation is pretty much the only structural piece that remains. We will be able to rebuild on top of that and remove the rest.”
Many of their household items were ruined, but friends and other community members have gathered donations to put them back on their feet, he said.
Dilks also learned Mackenzie will deliver their second child by C-section Tuesday instead of later in the week as planned.
“Priority one is to bring our daughter into the world,” he said. “Once we’re done with that we will turn out focus back on the house and the rebuild.”
The tornado was rated an EF2, and its path lasted 8.8 miles before dissipating on the southeast side of Iowa City.
Debris clean up
The city of Coralville will collect branches, limbs and other debris from the storm in the coming weeks free of charge.
“Due to the significant amount of storm damage throughout the city, it is estimated that collection may take a few weeks and may not be on your regular garbage day, so please be patient,” the city said in a news release.
City crews will collect storm debris from the curb of residential properties. Residents are asked to separate debris into piles of yard waste, construction items and appliances.
Individual tree branches and limbs shouldn’t be bigger than six inches in diameter. Residents are asked not to block the roadway or stormwater drains with the debris.
Regular yard waste collection may be delayed due to storm clean up, the city said.
Residents in the city of Hills are encouraged to move debris to the curb or edge of the street. According to the city’s website, Johnson County is organizing a clean up effort and will send crews out.
Ways to access help and shelter
Coralville City Council member Hai Huynh said there is help for residents’ immediate and long-term needs — “all you have to do is ask.”
“Despite of what happened, we rally together as a community,” Huynh said.
Samira Abdalla, community resource navigator with the Coralville Public Library, is available to connect residents to resources as they recover from the storm.
With the storm hitting on Friday evening ahead of the weekend, Abdalla said she hasn’t had residents reach out to her directly yet but anticipates that to change this week.
Abdalla is available to meet by appointment or walk-in Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the library. She can also be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling the library at 319-248-1850.
The Red Cross opened an emergency shelter for Coralville residents Friday night at the Coralville Recreation Center.
Pami Erickson, executive director for the Eastern Iowa chapter, said there were eight people in the shelter when it opened, and the number decreased over the weekend. Two people and a dog were sheltered Sunday night.
Erickson said the shelter remains open for now, and the organization is waiting to see what happens with Tuesday’s storms.
“We have our emergency shelter supplies in strategic areas throughout our chapter area,” Erickson said regarding preparation for Tuesday’s storms. “We have people standing out there ready so if we have to open a shelter, they know where to go and what to do so.”
Volunteers at the shelter have started to do client case work to ensure immediate needs are taken care of, Erickson said.
Huynh said residents who have been displaced from their homes have also been staying in hotels. She hopes the city will be able to offer long-term care for residents who were impacted.
For anyone who has lost their identification documents in the storm, Huynh said to contact Iowa Legal Aid online at iowalegalaid.org, or call 1-800-532-1503
Ways to help those impacted
For those looking to help, Huynh said the immediate need is financial donations that will be used directly on storm relief efforts. Huynh also encouraged individuals to check on their neighbors.
United Way of Johnson and Washington Counties is also helping residents impacted by the storm. Those needing assistance can dial 211, a free, 24/7 hotline that provides information about community resources and support services for immediate assistance. Other ways to access are texting your ZIP code to 898211, visiting 211iowa.org or downloading the 211 Iowa app.
Those who are looking to help can donate to the United Way’s disaster fund online.
The Community Foundation of Johnson County also has an emergency fund that people can contribute to online. This fund helps nonprofits working directly with impacted individuals.
Grace King and Erin Jordan of The Gazette contributed to this report.
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