Iowa Communities Struggle to Rebuild After Devastating Derecho Storm

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A sudden and devastating storm known as a Derecho tore through parts of Iowa last week, and some people are still working to rebuild. “The state has been hit so, so badly that it's almost easier for me to say what we don't need, because we kind of need everything right now. I really don't think that I can exaggerate how bad it is,” Rob Merritt told Inside Edition Digital.

Merritt, who lives in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, added that “the weirdest part about the storm is there really wasn't any buildup to it. I think I heard about it about 20 minutes before it happened. A friend of mine, who lives in Des Moines, had messaged, ‘Hey, this storm is coming through. It's really vicious. Bring in anything from your yard.’”

After realizing there was a storm coming, Merritt brought his plants in from outside. It was then that he noticed the sky got very dark. What came next was something that scared the lifelong Iowan. “It was not like anything I have ever seen in this state,” he said. “We're the home of tornadoes. We have all kinds of weird weather happening here, but this is the first time we've ever had anything that was like a hurricane.”

As wind gusts blew at over 110 miles per hour, the storm grew violent leaving a path of destruction across parts of the state in its wake.

Merritt filmed some of the damage during and after the storm. His footage has since gone viral.

“We're looking at months and months of recovery ahead of us. This is not something that we're going to clean up in a day or two, or even a week or two. It's just massive,” he said. “Our city officials were saying that we're 76 square miles and every single one of them was affected by this.”

Yet, in the aftermath of the devastation, he says neighbors have been stepping up to help one another.

“There have been so many volunteers coming out to help distribute food and distribute water and just help people, and that hasn't really been coordinated by any government agency,” he said. “All over the place, what you're seeing are people helping people.”

Over 200,000 people remain powerless. At least four people are believed to have been killed in the storm, according to USA Today.

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