Brock Mayer of Gideon Rescue Company says his wife is from Wapello and follow the Instagram account of a woman from Belle Plaine who was interested in barns. “She posted that it was pretty bad in Belle Plaine and there was no help there. So, we just messaged her on Instagram and said we had a disaster response team it’s not much but we are will to send some hands to help,” Mayer says. “She responded immediately and said ‘absolutely, we do need help, we need hands’.”
Mayer says they got in contact with the city manager and decided to go there. Mayer says they also contacted Union College in Lincoln, Nebraska where they went to school and got some students from the International Rescue and Relief Program to come along. “As a part of the curriculum they train young people to respond to disasters and they also have a desire to put those students in play while they are in school, responding to disasters to get practical, hands-on experience,” according to Mayer. “They have all sorts of skill sets — you name it — everything from medical EMT, search rescue, rope rescue, swift water rescue.”
Mayer says they had only seen a small mention of the storm on the weather channel before going to Belle Plaine. “The biggest need I think is for some of these towns, some of these outlying towns that maybe fall outside the scope of national news coverage to get the help and funding that they need,” Mayer says. He says they were lucky to get the donation of a crane that allowed them to help take large trees off of houses at no cost to the homeowners.
“There’s these guys that run around and they will give a $20,000 bid to take out one tree. And the homeowner is stuck between a rock and a hard place,” he says. “And it’s actually heartbreaking because if they don’t get the tree off of their house — then the power company is not going to come in and turn on their power,” Mayer says they did a lot to help in the last week — but there is more to be done and he is confident the town will bounce back.
“These communities are incredibly resilient. I mean, Belle Plaine has been incredible. This is a generous community, it’s a grateful community, these guys have done a lot of their own clean up already in terms of tree and brush removal,” Mayer says. Mayer says the work will continue for some time as they try to recover from the derecho.