Habitat for Humanity’s Response to the 2020 Derecho

When the derecho hit multiple counties throughout Iowa last August, Habitat for Humanity of Iowa immediately went to work. Below are a few statistics concerning their response and recovery over the past year:

ADRT Derecho event in Cedar Rapids. 

  • September 2020 – October 2020
  • 45 day deployment in Cedar Rapids. 
  • 60 work orders complete
  • 4953 cubic yards of debris cleared
  • 367 Hazard Trees Removed
  • 162 wellness/safety checks
  • Linn, Benton, Marshall, Cedar Counties

Habitat Iowa Mobile Response Team outside of official deployment 

  • August 2020 – Jan 2021
  • 46 homes debris removal
  • 3 counties (Linn, Tama, Marshall) 

The Habitat Iowa Mobile Response Team is currently serving in Cedar Rapids to do long term recovery on homes through Cedar Valley Habitat for Humanity. 

On August 10, 2020, a derecho blew through our community leaving destruction and devastation in its wake. Many were left without power, cell phone service, running water, and for some, without a home.

Immediately human service agencies like Four Oaks went to work.

Our staff worked tirelessly to ensure that our children and families were being cared for and getting connected to resources and supports, all while dealing with their own damage and devastation from the storm. 

Whether it was setting up generators for our residential treatment programs or passing out hot food and non-perishables in the hardest-hit neighborhoods, our staff and volunteers remained committed to helping those in need through some of the most difficult circumstances our community has ever faced.

“Our families were already under a lot of stress from the pandemic and all of the uncertainty and instability it had created around things like school and employment,” One caseworker said. “To then face an additional trauma with the derecho was extremely difficult for a lot of our families.”

In the days following the storm when we began to assess the damages and needs facing our agency, it was apparent that the numbers did not even begin to illustrate the mental, emotional, and physical toll that the derecho had on our children, families, staff, and community partners.

Four Oaks and its affiliate organizations, Jane Boyd and the Affordable Housing Network, Inc., experienced over $1 million of damage that was not covered by insurance and across our various locations in the area, lost an estimated 400 trees.

A year later, we have planted new trees, patched up roofs, and replaced siding, but the recovery efforts continue. Our agency continues to address the financial burden left behind by the storm and to assist families in getting connected with resources as they cope with the damage that remains to their homes.

As we continue to see needs of those affected by the derecho persist, Four Oaks, Jane Boyd, and the Affordable Housing Network, Inc., remain committed to ensuring that all members of our community have the support and resources to achieve success—no matter the challenges that blow through our lives.

If you would like to help support the critical work we are doing to ensure the success of our children and families, then visit fouroaks.org/you-can-help today.

Debbie Craig, Four Oaks Chief Advocacy Officer

An article by ABC News about a group of volunteers assisting their fellow Iowans in the aftermath of the Derecho storm in August 2020.

In this aerial image from a drone, damaged grain bins are shown at the Heartland Co-Op grain elevator, Aug. 11, 2020, in Luther, Iowa.