How to Help the Victims of the Devastating Derecho Storms Across the Midwest

Shannon Barbour
·5 mins read
Photo credit: The Washington Post - Getty Images
Photo credit: The Washington Post - Getty Images

From Cosmopolitan

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:


  • 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.

Share Resources

  • 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."

  • 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.

Photo credit: Daniel Acker - Getty Images
Photo credit: Daniel Acker - Getty Images
  • 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.

  • The Supply Hive non-profit organization is donating meals and collecting trays, cutlery, and cups, which can be donated to Urban Dreams during business hours.

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.

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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