Gas lines in Manchester.

As a massive power outage continues in Linn County, an overnight curfew remains in place in Cedar Rapids and one member of the Cedar Rapids city council has encouraged residents who have the option to go somewhere else “for a couple of days.”

Linn County residents began driving as far as Manchester on Monday night to get supplies like fuel because no gas station in the Cedar Rapids area had power.

“Well, it’s a little kind of craziness here as people are coming from all over down south, trying to find some gas for their vehicles and their generators,” said Jason McDermott, owner of the Quik-n-Handi in Manchester, which is just off Highway 18 and still getting a stream of Linn County customers.

McDermott said he’s not worried about running out of gas.

“The gas is there, just as long as we get the semis in here in time,” McDermott says. “They’re very busy.”

It’s been quite a while since McDermott has seen this much demand for fuel.

“There’s supply disruptions during hurricane times where you’ve seen some panic buying,” McDermott says. “But here, you’ve just got a real need.”

Rod Miller made the trip from Marion to Manchester to fill up. He was driving early Monday afternoon in Marion during the storm, trying to get to his home.

“The winds hit and it was significant and in 50-some years I’ve been on the planet I’ve not experienced those kinds of winds ever in eastern Iowa — and it blew,” he said as he fueled up in Manchester. “It got pretty crazy, trees blowing across the road and branches.”

Miller said as he drove north out of Linn County, he noticed the wooden utility poles that would normally be holding up power lines had been snapped off.

“It’s pretty amazing. I don’t think there’s any house that wasn’t touched. We lost a big tree in our yard, but our whole development looks like a war zone,” he said. “Roofs gone right off the houses. You know, it’s pretty wild.”

Miller and his wife decided to get gas after they dropped off perishable food at their son’s home in Central City, but the line at the gas station in Central City extended about a mile onto Highway 13.

“So we drove up to the next spot in Coggin and Ryan and there were big lines and we made it clear up here and went across the street at Casey’s, but they’d run out of the type of fuel that we need, so we came across the street here,” Miller said. “Pretty crazy.”

Manchester and the gas station where Miller fueled up is about 37 miles from his home in Marion. Miller said his drive to work, from Marion into Cedar Rapids, has been eerie as traffic signs have been ripped out of the ground, stop lights are bent, there’s no power and drivers seem disoriented by the destruction.

(By Janelle Tucker, KMCH, Manchester)