After the winds died down and Cedar Rapids began the arduous task of cleaning up after the Aug. 10 derecho’s devastating effect, the helpers arrived.
Almost immediately, residents with chain saws helped clear off downed trees. Neighbors handed out food and water, sharing generators and what little power they had left as the electricity stayed off for several days.
“Within hours of the storm, you could hear chain saws and people banding together to get resources and figure out their situation,” Linn County Supervisor Ben Rogers said. “It shows the resiliency of this community.”
Several grassroots efforts also began gathering and distributing donations to displaced area residents, which more often than not was run by individuals who were facing the same challenges in their own homes.
For example, when people heard about the devastation at apartment complexes such as Cedar Terrace, where its majority immigrant residents were sleeping outside, dozens dropped off supplies for the displaced families.
Despite the support felt among their fellow residents, many said those efforts were the sole help Cedar Rapids residents had received to cope with the disaster after relief organizations and local officials failed to step up in a timely manner.
Some residents pointed to the fact the National Guard wasn’t sent out to survey the damage and to help with search-and-rescue and medical efforts until Friday, Aug. 14 — four days after the storm.
Gov. Kim Reynolds also received criticism for the pace on asking for federal aid. She sent a request to President Donald Trump for an expedited Presidential Major Disaster Declaration on Sunday afternoon, Aug. 16, nearly a week later.