BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
LEE COUNTY – The major storm that blew across the state on Monday leaving as many as a half a million homes without power, left just a small mark on Lee County.
According to Lee County Emergency Management Agency Coordinator Jason Dinwiddie, the county escaped with very little damage.
“We did get the tail end of it, but we didn’t even get much wind down in Keokuk,” Dinwiddie said Tuesday morning.
“I don’t know of any power outages, but we did hear of some downed power lines. Obviously there is the ongoing cell phone and Internet interruptions, but other than that, that was about it.”
During her biweekly press conference updating the state’s COVID-19 situation, Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds said preliminary numbers are indicating that 10 million acres of state crops were impacted by the storm.
The system was labeled a derecho storm, which is a straight line storm system that can result in sustained winds in excess of 100 mph, that can also spawn hail and tornadoes.
No tornadoes have been identified by weather experts, but there were widespread reports of crop damage, building damage, vehicles being flipped over and heavy power line damage.
Iowa Utility Board chairman Geri Huser said utility companies are working around the clock to restore power across the state, but have no estimated time for the restoration of services.
“IUB is asking customers to be patient as services will be restored as soon as they can safely do so,” Huser said Tuesday.
Reynolds said it would take days or even weeks to know the full scope of the storms damage to the state.
Iowa Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management Director Joyce Flinn said the state’s Emergency Operations Center was already active dealing with the COVID crisis, but on Monday was turned into a natural disaster recovery operation.
She said Iowans are reaching out for help with generators, diesel, debris removal and other assistance.
Reynolds said 450,000 homes are still without power today and one of the hardest hit counties, Linn County in Cedar Rapids, experienced 97% outage.
“The seriousness of this storm could result in several days of power outage,” she said.
With the full extent of the damage from the storm still unknown, Reynolds said the state will be applying for federal assistance.
“I would be shocked if we don’t meet thresholds for federal assistance,” she said.
Reynolds also said the state is currently running numbers to look at the executive order signed by President Donald Trump on Saturday extending additional unemployment benefits among other things like eviction protection.
“We are running numbers right now and working with Department of Workforce Development,” Reynolds said. “I’m hoping Congress can put partisanship aside and get something done.”