“Some of it was things you’d only see in the movies — well, at least you thought, right?” Sidell says, with a laugh. “A very eye-opening experience for me the day of and the evening of the storm is when I starting the Iowa Derecho Storm Resource page.”
Siddell says the site quickly because a connection point for derecho victims and people who wanted to help.
“We had volunteers coming in from all over the country that were driving in with church groups, work groups or just individuals who drove in as well as those who brought us donations from all over the country,” he says. “…Thinking back, you could never have imagined that’s what would have come out of a Facebook page.”
On the one year anniversary of the storm, Siddell says there’s still clean-up and repairs to be done.
“There are still blue and green tarps that litter our community on these rooftops of individuals who are still waiting — whether that’s waiting on a contractor or waiting on their insurance,” Siddell says, “or individuals who were under- or not insured at all, you know, they’re still kind of waiting to figure out how they are going to get some of their repairs taken care of.”
Siddell started a non-profit called Together We Achieve to help storm victims. The Iowa Derecho Storm Resource Center has been at a permanent location in Cedar Rapids since last fall, providing clothes, a food pantry and even chain saws.
“We loan out chain saws at no charge to members of the community. We pay for all maintenance, fuel, oil so that they can continue their clean-up,” Siddell says. “We know that there are still trees down and there are still limbs that need to be trimmed, so we want to continue to provide that service as well.”
Siddell says the one year anniversary of the derecho is a time to reflect on how the community and many, many volunteers from elsewhere came together and accomplished so much after such a devastating storm.
(By Janelle Tucker, KMCH, Manchester)