Iowa’s Derecho: A Lesson in Preparedness

Like many, I wasn’t expecting the storm that hit Iowa on Monday, August 10, 2020, to be so severe. My family had taken off the week before to relax in a cabin, and I was planning to spend Monday catching up on groceries and any other errands.

I was still out getting food when my husband texted me that I needed to come home immediately. I hadn’t checked the radar and said I had one more quick stop and then would head back, but he wrote immediately, “No, you really need to get home now.”

I’m glad I listened because I arrived home at 12:30 p.m. and by 12:35 p.m. I was hearing the wind howl and seeing the trees start to sway. It turns out I made it home 5 minutes before we essentially experienced a Category 2 hurricane in Iowa that devastated the area.

Thankfully, my family is OK. Everyone I know is OK. My friends in Cedar Rapids are dealing with heavy tree cleanup, property damage, and power loss compared to me in North Liberty.

I’m so fortunate for how our house fared in the storm and that we were only without power for about a day. However, my experience with this storm offered me an important lesson about staying prepared for any future events. Here are a few things I learned, but be sure to check out these tips for more information on being prepared for power outages.

Get Ice Right Away

Like, once it’s safe to go outside, go get ice ASAP. Don’t wait. Go buy ice. I was so overwhelmed that I didn’t connect the dots that power loss means the fridge isn’t working. I went out to buy ice in the evening, but with all the traffic lights out, it took me so long to get anywhere — and I live in the middle of North Liberty. Once I did, every place I checked was completely cleared out. After several stops and backed-up traffic I had to call it a day and go home. I was way, way too late to get started on the errand. I could have saved more food if I had been prepared.

Keep Your Flashlights Ready

Once I got back from the epic fail of the ice errand, it was completely dark outside. We realized we didn’t know where our various flashlights were. And when it’s pitch-black and you don’t have flashlights  . . .  you can’t find flashlights. We found a few in the garage that were without batteries before coming across one small flashlight that worked. We had to use our iPhone flashlights to find it, which started to drain our batteries (which is not a good idea when you can’t recharge your phone at home). This was a lesson in keeping some flashlights in a designated area that are ready to work should you need one.

My thoughts are with everyone in Iowa affected by this terrible storm. I’m devastated to see the damage in Cedar Rapids, but it’s heartwarming to see the way the community is banding together.

You can help! Check out this list of ways to help those in need following the storm.

Were you prepared for this storm? What are some lessons that Iowa’s Derecho taught you?

Brigette lives in North Liberty with her husband Brian, energetic daughter Kate (October 2014) and their two cats, Penny and Olive. Originally from the Chicago suburbs, Brigette came to Iowa City to attend the journalism school at the University of Iowa, fell in love with the area, and decided she couldn’t leave. After meeting Brian while working at the same Iowa City restaurant in college, they got married in August 2015 in the heart of downtown. She works full time in project management and as an employee of the Core Fitness Kids Club while finishing her MBA at Upper Iowa University. In her free time, she drags Kate out garage sale-ing, tries to keep up with her reading list and runs, lives for Hawkeye football season, enjoys a good meal on a patio, runs her Bachelor/Bachelorette bracket with her family and friends, and of course, chases her daughter around the pool and the park.


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