Family News

The Devastation in Cedar Rapids, Iowa

I’ve already posted about the difficulties Josiah and I had from the derecho wind storm last week, so I thought I’d share a bit about how the storm looked from the rest of my family’s perspective and a broader look at our town.

My dad was with Sarah and Grandpa at the Bright Lights office when the storm hit. He writes: “When it seemed that the wind had died down, we ventured upstairs. The building next door had fallen down and was laying in the street. We had water coming through our ceiling by our back door, but I didn’t see any other immediate damage inside our office. I wanted to go home where Rebekah was, but I couldn’t get out of the parking lot. The whole lot was a mountain of 2 x 4s. It was the whole roof of the building across the street. The alley the other direction was also blocked by debris. Lots of people were now outside, even though it was still raining pretty hard. There was so much to do. The guy from the pizza shop next door helped me move the dumpsters and debris from the alley so I could get out. But getting home was another story. Every road was blocked by trees, downed power lines and debris. I had to zig-zag for 15 or 20 minutes to go the 1 mile from the Bright Lights office to home. At home, I found we lost 5 of our 11 trees and lots of branches. Our biggest tree was laying on our garage, but our damage was light compared to many others.”

The building next door to Noah’s Archive.

A tree fell on mom and dad’s garage.

Sarah and Andrew had tied their special swing to the huge pine tree in their back yard to make sure it stayed secure in the wind storm. They never expected that the entire tree would fall on the neighbor’s garage.

My mom was alone at home while so many trees in their backyard were crashing over.
“Are you downstairs?” my dad texted.
“Yes. Where is the safest place? This is scary,” she texted back.
“Get under the bed” my dad texted her.
“I can’t fit” she said.
“Go into the bathroom (no windows)” Stephen advised.
Thankfully no trees hit the house!

The more we all saw what had happened in our city, the worse it was. Most of the large trees were down. In fact, the city of Cedar Rapids estimates that we lost approx 50% of our tree canopy covering. Chainsaws and generators were sold out all over town. Gas stations were closed because they had no power. Driving in town was very difficult with many impassible roads. The city implemented a curfew from 10pm to 6am. Over 400,000 people lost power. No one knew when power would be coming back.

Power lines were everywhere–strewn across roads, yards, trees and branches. It felt like Cedar Rapids, the 2nd largest city in Iowa, had just become a war-devastated 3rd world country. Much food was lost. There was no garbage pick up. On the positive side, we had a beautiful view of the stars. An army of bucket trucks and crews for tree and electric work have been on our streets for two weeks now.

Andrew, Sarah’s husband, cooking outside. They went 10 days without power but did greatly appreciate a generator that friends shared with them.

Church on Sunday was a bit different as the service was held in the parking lot instead of in the building. At least there were many freshly cut logs to use as seats. Andrew, Sarah’s husband, was the scheduled speaker. Guess what topic he had been given weeks earlier? Jesus calming the storm.

The Bright Lights office and Noah’s Archive bookstore remained without power for about 12 days. Just three days ago the power came back on. Yay! No more packing orders by flashlight!

Neighbors have bonded together and Christians all over town have had many opportunities. The National Guard has arrived, Samaritan’s purse and other Christian groups have arrived, and most of the city now has power again. It is going to be a LOOONG time for our city to heal. Amazingly, only a few lives were lost through it all. The Lord has protected and He is working, using this tragedy for many open doors.

“The LORD hath His way in the whirlwind and in the storm, and the clouds are the dust of his feet.” Nahum 1:3

1 comment

  1. Wow…I remember the devastation after the Cedar Rapids flood back in 2008 and it’s so hard to see this again. Thank God for keeping you all safe!

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