Last week, a derecho—a line of intense "widespread" and "long-lived" wind and thunderstorms—ripped through the Midwest and especially pummeled cities across Iowa. Describing the devastation, Iowa Starting Line wrote:
"There are simply no words, photos, or videos sufficient to describe the full extent of the carnage. A land hurricane. A bomb. An apocalypse. A 40-mile wide tornado. An artillery barrage. Not even those descriptions suffice as we simply haven’t seen something like this before, we have no frame of reference."
With silos crushed, buildings crumbled, trees overturned, 14 million acres of farmland devastated in Iowa alone, residents without power, and at least three confirmed deaths, recovery from the hour-long storm is expected to take years. Donald Trump recently signed a portion of a relief order (more on that below), but so much more needs to be done.
Here's how you can help residents and recovery efforts right now:
If you can safely get out and volunteer, United Way of East Central Iowa needs help cleaning up debris and delivering and cooking food. For more ways to get involved with United Way, visit their website.
Table to Table is searching for volunteers to help deliver food to those in need in Cedar Rapids. The organization, which seeks to keep food from going to waste, is also accepting donations.
Sign up with the City of Des Moines Parks and Recreation Department to clean up public spaces across Des Moines.
The Iowa Derecho Storm Resource page on Facebook connects people with services and donations they might need. If you're near the area, consider posting on this page and figuring out how you can help.
The Disaster Behavioral Health Response Team is a network of trained volunteers who provide mental health services following disasters. For more information about how to become a volunteer or request their assistance, visit their website.
Donate Food and Money
The Greater Cedar Rapids Community Foundation set up a disaster recovery fund, which you can donate to here.
Donations to the Red Cross will go toward providing food, shelter and medical treatment in Iowa and Illinois. Text “disaster” to 90999 to make a $10 donation or go to their website to donate any other amount. The Red Cross also advised, "For those interested in helping people specifically affected by the recent derecho, we ask that they write 'Derecho Relief' in the memo line of a check and mail it to their local Red Cross chapter with the completed donation form."
Linn Area Partners Active in Disaster created a list of food banks and other companies and organizations that are feeding local communities. Donations to these efforts will help ensure those in need don't go without during this time.
Help the Salvation Army reach its $50,000 fundraising goal to provide food, clean up, lodging, and spiritual support in Cedar Rapids.
Cedar Rapids-based Horizons is working with Meals on Wheels to feed the elderly and people with disabilities.
The Carson King Foundation and clothing company Iowa Love partnered to sell #IowaStrong T-shirts. All proceeds will go to the foundation, which will then distribute the funds to various organizations, including United Way.
Donations to the Des Moines Area Religious Council Food Pantry Network and the Food Bank of Iowa will help provide perishable items once power is restored.
GoFundMe created an official page with links to various verified fundraisers that will benefit the victims of the derecho.
Two 6-year-old boys play among their family's tarp and tent shelter outside an apartment complex in Cedar Rapids on Monday. The #derecho left their apartment so damaged it was unsafe to enter. They're not alone in the situation. Advocates say 1,200 refugees had their homes destroyed and they're struggling to get them assistance. See the #linkinbio to learn more. 📸 @kelsey_kremer
A post shared by Des Moines Register (@dmregister) on Aug 17, 2020 at 3:39pm PDT
Post on Social Media
As The New York Times reported, Iowa residents whose towns will never be the same wonder if the rest of the U.S. has any clue what they're going through. With so much national attention directed toward the presidential election and the pandemic, it's understandable why they'd feel this way. Because so many people don't even know about these storms and what Midwesterners are facing right now, awareness is crucial. PowerPoint activism won't fix the world, but it can definitely help spread the word and point your friends toward helpful resources that they can contribute to.
A post shared by Des Moines Register (@dmregister) on Aug 17, 2020 at 11:51am PDT
Register to Vote
On Tuesday, Trump stopped in Cedar Rapids for 30 minutes before continuing on to a rally in Arizona. While in an airport hangar in Iowa, he spoke to officials about the devastation and signed a relief order with $45 million earmarked for public utilities and buildings. However, he didn't designate any money toward individual homeowners or farmers despite local officials' advisement. According to NYT, one local business owner who voted for Trump in 2016 remains disappointed by his response this week and won't vote for him again.
To ensure we elect the best officials to handle emergencies and humanitarian crises, know your state's voter registration deadlines and be sure to vote in November and make your voice heard.
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