BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
FORT MADISON – Some in Fort Madison were awaiting…or awoken to, serious weather Monday night as a heavy thunderstorm blew through the area leaving some property damage in its wake.
According to National Weather Service reports out of the Quad Cities, Fort Madison had a report of wind gusts as high as 64 mph at 10:30. Minimal hail was seen on the east end of town but the most damaging impact was on Brenda Derr’s building at 820 Avenue G.
Derr said the membrane was pulled up on the three-story building and then winds collapsed the roof into the third floor sending rain water gushing into an apartment and then pouring into the main floor that houses her business, Dollhouse Dreams.
Derr said the water did extensive damage to the building’s structure and winds blew down a top portion of the fire wall that separates her building from the building to the east.
Water could still be seen dripping onto the main floor and saturated bubbles in the ceiling on Tuesday at about 11:30 as techs from ServiceMaster and employees helped clean up the damage.
“We’re gonna have to have it all torn out,” Derr said of the ceiling. “We think the membrane flipped over and then the roof caved in. Joey Herren and Doug Krogmeier came in and they think the roof picked up and then came back down.”
But she said she was moved and impressed by the efforts of local people in the Main Street District to help her clean up.
“I didn’t even know who to call. I called Cassie at Main Street and said I need buckets and wetvacs and can you call someone to help me,” she said. “She called around and Dave Poland from Two Rivers came over. Cassie was able to get a hold of a WetVac from Boulder’s Inn & Suites so Dave went and got that.”
“I was like who else can I call to help get people down here to help with the water. I think people should know how everybody down here is like a family and if you need something people are here. I don’t think people realize all this is down here,” she said.
Derr said she will be moving her merchandise to storefront to the west at 824 Avenue G so she can remain open while restorations are being done. However, she said the old fashioned ice cream and soda station are good to go.
Lee County Emergency Management Director Steve Cirinna said he hadn’t heard about the roof damage in Fort Madison, but said he was aware of some high winds and some tree damage.
“All that I got was just a lot of limbs down, lot of wind. Nothing from the weather service. But we got about 1/2 an inch of rain,” Cirinna said.
Fort Madison street crews blocked off Avenue E from 5th Street to 6th Street when a large tree snapped off about 15 feet up and fell across the street from the south side onto the north easement and landed neatly between two vehicles. Street crews were out early Tuesday morning, cutting and removing the tree from the roadway.
An air conditioning unit was pulled from its mount atop the Fox Theatre and hung precariously on the roof by the hoses. A window was blown out at the old Lee County Bank building and the canopy/awning from Under the Sun was almost completely ripped from the building at the corner of 8th and Avenue G. All businesses are open today for business, although customers are asked to bear with the clean-up.
Emergency crews also responded to a semi-trailer that had been tipped on its side in the northbound lane of Hwy 218 just north of Donnellson. The driver was trapped in the cab of the trailer but rescue crews were able to get him out uninjured.