Featuring works from local artists, archival images and newspaper clipping from the week of the storm, videos of the response/damage and photo journalist's never before seen work, this exhibit has plenty to see and experience as we reflect on where we have been, and where we're going, one year after the Derecho of 2020.
The storm that upset our lives, left us in the dark and ravaged our homes and trees formed the morning of Aug. 10, 2020, in northern Nebraska and southeast South Dakota, gaining strength as it moved east. By the time the “inland hurricane” hit Des Moines, its winds were gusting to 100 mph. The storm then tapped into what the National Weather Service called an “extremely unstable environment.” The wind grew stronger, slicing through Marshalltown, Tama and Benton counties, growing in strength before its bow—the backward “C” we saw on radar—slammed into the Cedar Rapids metro area at 12:30 p.m. What made this storm different—and more devastating—than most was the force and unrelenting longevity of its wind. There was no letup in the 30 to 45 minutes it pounded cities and fields. Trees and power poles snapped. Roofs flew off. Homes and buildings collapsed. Huge trees—ones that had withstood decades of storms—were uprooted. Corn was flattened. Steel grain bins and steel street signs folded to the ground. In the days that followed, families ran out of food and gas. Cellphones and internet connections didn’t work for hundreds of thousands of people. That lack of connectivity complicated and slowed relief and rescue efforts. It would take days—sometimes weeks—to reconnect people to the 21st century. Many were and still are displaced from their homes. It was one of those events you’ll remember where you were, and what you were doing, for the rest of your life. To date, insurance companies have paid out $3.125 billion in derecho-related claims in Iowa. That doesn’t count the damage to homes and cars that weren’t insured. One year after the derecho, individuals, cities and counties are determined to continue the recovery and rebuilding. Homes are being repaired, trees are being planted, the electrical grid is being hardened. Still, when it rains hard, and the wind blows hard, we remember. The Derecho Remembrance Exhibit is a collection of powerful images along with community contributions from area artists—threading together the story of a historic natural disaster and its significant impact to a community’s physical landscape and the people within. This exhibit is presented by The Gazette, in partnership with CSPS and supported by West Bend.