There aren’t many weather events more fearsome than a derecho. But few seemed to notice the one that just hit the U.S. Midwest this past week.
A derecho is a powerful, long line of thunderstorms that the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) says “produce destruction similar to that of a tornado.” Such a storm system pummeled Iowa, especially the state’s second largest city, Cedar Rapids, and the surrounding region on Monday, Aug. 10th.
Winds hit speeds of some 110 mph, that’s 177 km/h — equivalent to a Category 2 hurricane. And yet for days no one heard anything. There’s been significant destruction and no state of emergency declared. Many officials even took days to respond; 100 members of the Iowa National Guard arrived in Cedar Rapids on Friday to help clear tree debris that is blocking many downed power lines according to MPR News.
They also report that Iowa’s Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds has had to defend against criticism that she has been slow to respond to a wind storm that devastated the state, promising more help soon for tens of thousands of residents struggling through their fifth day without electricity. Reynolds also said she would submit the state’s request for a federal disaster declaration Monday, August 17th, after completing mandatory damage assessments. That leaves residents on their own for nearly a full week before an emergency has been declared.
The damage was not insignificant as these images shared on social media can show:
It did quite a bit of damage to the states corn crop.
It went all the way to Chicago, Il. to do damage.
The storm swept through Iowa downing trees and power lines, destroying a third or more of the state’s corn fields, and damaging homes and businesses. At least three people in Iowa and one in Indiana were killed.
With all of this it is shocking that it received so little attention in the US national media; this article from Washington Post blamed it on an overactive week of shock politics and pandemic coverage. Though it is also possible that trouble with a lack of local news media to cover the story may also be a contributing factor.
What ever the reason; you’ve heard about the storm now and so have the American Red Cross who have begun to respond to the need for assistance.