The August 2020, derecho, an extreme weather event that effected southwestern areas of Ontario, Canada, and most of the Midwest of the United States, including the Dakotas, Iowa, Illinois and Ohio, is now considered the costliest thunder storm in U.S. history.
Iowa and the Cedar Rapids area were especially hard hit and many residents went several weeks without power. According to Washingpost.com, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has reported there was $7.5 billion in damage and the agricultural impacts are still being calculated, meaning the total cost of the storm will likely go up as crops continue to be harvested and losses are tabulated. NOAA on noaa.gov has also said that the impact on the land will be seen for 30 years or more.
The storm caused so much damage that the Iowa National Guard was called up to assist with cleanup. Linemen from around the country where dispatched from power companies to assist in restringing power lines.
Kirkwood sustained a great deal of damage to its main campus while most of the regional campus and outreach centers were spared major damage. Troy McQuillen, vice president of Facilities, said, “Kirkwood’s main campus had about $2.1 million in damages. We lost about 160 trees but thankfully no injuries were reported.”
Kirkwood Community College delayed the start of the term by one week to give students time to work on cleanup as well as to get power restored to their homes. The storm forced the campus to enter a state of emergency requiring all staff on campus during the storm to shelter in place. But, according to McQuillen, “Because of the pandemic there were a lot fewer students and faculty on campus.”
There was even concern as to whether or not the library would be able to open in time for the start of the fall term according to emails students and staff received. McQuillen said, “We will be working on repairs until July of 2021, the Equestrian Center’s roof needs repairs as well as replanting trees.”