National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce

Rhonda, Cedar Rapids, IA, 2020

The date was August 10, 2020. The day started normally. We had five young kids, a teenager, my elderly mother in law, my adult daughter, and myself. We have a brand new five bedroom, 3-bathroom home in a nice neighborhood. My husband headed out on the road in his semi, and I started my daily routine. Kids were watching movies. The only weather alerts on the phones said severe thunderstorms with wind gusts up to 50 mph. We shut off the movie when the news stated storm was eminent. I decided to put loose objects in safer location (trashcans in garage, plants moved under cover, etc.).

I stepped out front door. It was overcast, but calm. I grabbed trashcans, and placed them in my garage. I went back in my house, intending to step onto deck, and secure plants, grill, etc. I asked my daughter to come help me as I passed her. It was maybe 20 feet from one door to the other. I opened the patio door, and I was shoved back by a huge gust of wind and rain. I forced my way outside, and started securing stuff. I was under the assumption this was a particularly bad thunderstorm, and I had lived through plenty.

I looked off my deck and saw our half built wooden swing set heading for our chain link fence. I ran down the steps and grabbed a leg of the frame, hollering for my daughter to come help. She was in the middle of securing my husband's grill, which had face planted, and she came down to help. Somehow, the two of us managed to get the swing set onto its back (pretty sure the wind helped).

She saw our new glass patio table jump off the deck, slam to the ground a few feet away from her, bounce, pole vault over the fence, and proceed to run away. I chased it, and caught it in the lot next door (the glass was gone). I started chasing property that was blowing away, and put it against our fence in the hopes of keeping it corralled.

We were trying to figure out if it was a tornado, but was lasting unusually long. We went out front, and rescued a neighbor’s property, as best we could, then went back in the house. We found we had no power, and my husband was blowing up my phone trying to reach me. (I had left it in the house, kids were downstairs, mom in law in bathroom for safety. He had made it to Waterloo, IA. Did I need him to come back and help? He was safe, and it was almost over, so I told him to keep going.

Then he told me he’d drive his semi in it all the way.... We later found out we were out in a derecho, and it had sustained winds of 140+ mph. So much destruction. We do not trust wind anymore; storms are deceptive. Government emergency money programs totally let us down. We have too little damage, so no one wants to help us repair our siding that was ripped off. We get it, many got it much worse, but not many people were out walking in it, trying to help ensure everyone was safe from flying debris.... PTSD anyone?