Monday, July 11, 2011

El Derecho

Eastern Iowa was rudely awakened by a storm about 5 AM this morning. I'm sure we were not the only family huddled in the basement praying for safety! I've never heard such strong winds. I was certain the roof was going to blow off at any time!

It didn't. 

About an hour later we ventured back upstairs. We had a few large tree limbs down and our old pair tree broke at the base. The power had gone off at the beginning of the storm, so we had no internet or radios to check on the damage outside of our property. At about 9 AM we headed to town for breakfast and to fulfill our curiosity.

The town nearest us and a little south is fine. Cedar Rapids, 40 miles west, is fine too. But the damage in Vinton, 20 miles northeast of us, and Garrison, about 10 miles northeast, is quite extensive. 

Downed trees and power lines block most of the roads in Vinton.

High winds damaged roofs like this one.

This stop sign broke in two.

Falling trees took down power lines.

Experts say the wind was between 110 to 130 miles per hour!

Emergency crews are hard at work.

It's sad--and sobering--to see such damage!

This tree at the public library that we frequent lost nearly all of its limbs!

Several structures downtown Vinton sustained damage to their roofs.

This is an apartment building. There are no reports of injuries!

This is my mom's favorite coffee shop.

As if it wasn't sobering enough to witness the damage to the town of Vinton, we were astonished by what we saw as we headed west of town back to our house. (We had come into Vinton from Cedar Rapids to the east.)

Look carefully:

Those are telephone poles, bent at a 90-degree angle!

The strongest winds must have gone through at the top of the hill. And these are the big industrial-size poles! Yes, I just made that up. My point is, they're huge!

The debris in the trees is the siding off of someone's machine shed. Many many machine sheds, barns, corn cribs and grain bins are flattened, have roofs missing, or are completely destroyed.

This is a corn field. The stalks are about 4 feet tall, but now entire fields are laying flat on the ground.

This _was_ a typical ranch-style house. The roof is missing, as is the back wall. Debris is strewn across the field.

Garrison seems to have suffered the same fate as Vinton.

The volunteer fire department lost its roof. The people by that doorway--you might have to squint--are filming a segment for the evening news on the local TV station. Their website,, has more pictures of the damage done by the storm.

The fire station is where we go to vote. This barn was across the parking lot. I love barns and this was one of my favorites.

Somebody's grain bin ended up in a nearby field. Please excuse the hazy picture--we were driving and had the windows up. It was a hot day! 

Hmm, that might be the roof of the grain bin we just saw...

Can you believe this pile of rubble was a house? Actually, a corn crib converted into a house. We spoke with the owner's brother for a minute and learned that the family evacuated shortly before the storm hit. I'm so thankful they did! They probably didn't have a basement.

A friend who lives nearby called this evening. They know personally the family who lived here. Apparently they were able to locate all of their photo albums! Isn't that a small silver lining? We're about 5 miles from this house, by the way.

Another neighbor just called to say the power is still out at their place (about half a mile away) and at the next neighbor's as well. I'm so thankful that we returned home this afternoon with restored power! I feel extremely blessed to still have a home--and it's undamaged! 

Our 4-year-old has had many many questions today. I'm sure the questions will continue, as well as the destructive play! Tonight it was his blocks--he and his 2-year-old brother were building houses and trees and knocking them down. Ok, so that's not too far out of the ordinary, but this time it was the wind doing the damage. 

Please keep the residents of Benton, Tama and Marshall counties in your prayers. The prayers going up from our house today have been grateful ones! We have much to be thankful for.

PS: 'El Derecho' is Spanish for a straight-line windstorm. 

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