The call is going out for volunteers to help those areas of the state hit hard by Monday’s derecho.
Marion Chamber of Commerce president Jill Ackerman is helping coordinate the volunteer effort for that eastern Iowa area. “What we are doing right now is collecting name and contact information and then we have some teams out doing some canvassing and data collection — of basically what areas need the help most,” Ackerman says. She says they hope to have a 24-hour turnaround in getting the information ready.
“This has been kind of a slow process of getting our bearings and just figuring our where to start because there is just so much destruction,” she says. She says some of the volunteer work will be helping move debris. The power has been out and that will require some help with clean up.
“There’s going to be a lot of food loss, we have some senior living centers that have contacted us — they are not assisted living — but they are going to need some help cleaning out their refrigerators and disposing of that type of waste,” Ackerman explains. She says they are also handing out food to people and can use some volunteers to help with that task.
Ackerman says you don’t need to bring chain saws or power equipment — but other items would be helpful. “Rakes and buckets and gloves and dollies and those types of things will all be super helpful,” Ackerman says. Ackerman says volunteers can donate their time for a few hours, a day or several days – they are welcoming anyone’s help for however long they’re available.
If you are interested in volunteering to help with storm debris clean-up or food distribution in Marion, you can call is 319-447-3581.
Story County is also looking for volunteers to help with the cleanup. Story County Emergency Management Agency deputy coordinator Melissa Spencer says there is a lot of work to do.
“Every community in Story County was impacted in some manner — some a little heavier than others — but every community did experience damage,” Spencer says. They are looking for volunteers Saturday to help.
“There are individuals who just don’t have the physical capability to clear the debris from their yard. So we are looking for volunteers who are willing to go and assist on private property and help those folks who just can’t get that debris cleared,” according to Spencer. She says the first thing to do is sign up.
“We make it really simple, we have a pre-registration link that people can provide all their contact information and when they would be available and what they would like to do,” Spencer says. “We have it on the Story County Emergency Management page. There is a post right at the top that says volunteers needed.”
Once you are registered you can go to Gates Hall in Nevada, and you will get an assignment. “We do that so that we can really keep track of everybody and make sure that everybody is going home safe at the end of the day and that nobody is unaccounted for and that we can make sure the help gets to where it is needed most by having this organized process of sending volunteers out,” she explains.
Spencer asks that you wear appropriate clothing and be prepared for hot weather.
“We don’t want people to come in flip-flops or sandals — you will be asked to go home and get some appropriate footwear and come back. If they have gloves that they have at home and some eye protection, that would be great,” Spencer says. “We are still doing our best to deal with the COVID that is out there — so we are asking people to come with face coverings.”
Volunteers can report to Nevada Saturday between 9:00-10:30 a.m. to get an assignment.
(Janelle Tucker of KMCH in Manchester contributed to this story.)