Storm Damage Response

Many parts of Iowa were affected by a severe derecho storm that swept through the state on Monday, August 10, 2020. Sustained winds and gusts between 90-140 mph for up to 45 minutes caused extensive damage and power outages for hundreds of thousands of people, including Linn County residents and businesses. 

This page is updated as new information becomes available. Last update: 12/2/20 at 10:05 a.m.

Needs Assessment Questionnaire

Linn County residents impacted by the derecho are encouraged to complete the needs assessment questionnaire developed by community agencies including Linn County Public Health, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, HACAP, Waypoint, and other community partners. The information collected in this questionnaire will be used to identify needs that still exist following the derecho and may be shared with partner agencies in order to allocate resources. A network of community organizations, known as My Care Community, are working together to help meet the various needs of residents during this time of recovery. A member of the My Care Community will contact residents who request help and who include their contact information.

Complete the Questionnaire

Do You Need Help?

Have you been impacted by the August 10, 2020 derecho? Help is available! 

The State of Iowa has established a recovery website to help survivors from the August severe storms. Go to disasterrecovery.iowa.gov for a list of available resources and helpful information.

Unincorporated Organic Debris Removal

  • Residents in unincorporated Linn County should place their organic storm debris in the ROW by November 9, 2020 to guarantee removal by Linn County’s debris removal contractor. 
  • Due to the widespread area of unincorporated Linn County, debris removal may occur in the days following the deadline; however, having organic storm debris to the ROW by November 9 will guarantee removal.
  • The self-haul debris drop off sites closed permanently on November 16.
  • See the Debris Removal section below for more information.

FEMA Assistance

The deadline to apply for the Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA) Individual Assistance Program, which assisted Linn County residents affected by the August 10 storm, has passed. The deadline was November 2, 2020. 

How to Appeal a FEMA Decision

Iowa residents who sustained damage from the August 10 derecho may receive a letter from FEMA saying they are ineligible for disaster assistance and can appeal the decision if they disagree. All disaster assistance applicants have the right to appeal, and sometimes a quick fix is all that is needed. Read your letter carefully to clarify why your application was labeled "ineligible" or "incomplete." It will explain the application status and what you can do to respond.

Visit the FEMA website for more information.

Assistance Programs

The following resources may be able to provide assistance for those affected by the August 10 derecho. Contact your insurance company as a first step in seeking assistance. Some programs have eligibility requirements and may not be available for everyone. The Gazette is also tracking multiple resources on The Gazette Derecho Recovery Resources webpage.

Financial

Legal

  • Iowa Attorney General's Office
  • Beware of Storm Chaser Scams
  • Cedar Rapids Civil Rights Commission
  • Beware of Fraud
  • Iowa Legal Aid website 
  • Iowa Legal Aid hotline: call 1-877-469-2259. This is a call-back hotline. Callers will be connected to the Hotline voicemail. Callers should leave their name, phone number, brief description of their legal problem, and whether the issue is urgent. Callers will receive a call back from an Iowa Legal Aid staff member to go through a screening. Callers who meet Iowa Legal Aid’s guidelines will be connected with an Iowa Legal Aid attorney; those who are outside of Iowa Legal Aid’s guidelines will be connected with a volunteer attorney.

Disaster Declaration

During their formal meeting on August 12, the Linn County Board of Supervisors signed a resolution declaring a formal local state of disaster emergency in response to the widespread severe storm that impacted Linn County on August 10, 2020. 

The resolution is a formal step that activates disaster response and recovery aspects of the Linn County comprehensive emergency plan and authorizes the Board of Supervisors to execute the expenditure of emergency funds from all available sources, invoke mutual aid agreements, and apply to the State of Iowa for assistance in the response to the storm damage. A local disaster emergency resolution is needed in the event expenses incurred during the response are reimbursable by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

The Linn County Board of Supervisors requested Governor Reynolds to expedite her request to President Trump to declare Iowa a federal disaster to unlock additional federal assistance. The Board of Supervisors also formally requested Governor Reynolds to deploy the National Guard to Linn County to assist residents.

Food

The Salvation Army has resumed its normal breakfast and lunch services at 1000 C Avenue NW, Cedar Rapids. 

Additional resource information can be found at linndisasterinfo.com/storm.

Mental Health Resources

  • Foundation 2 Crisis Line: 319-362-2174
  • Abbe Warm Line: 844-775-WARM (9276)
  • Additional resources are available at linndisasterinfo.com/storm

Volunteers

If you would like to volunteer, please email volunteer@uweci.org or visit www.uweci.org/volunteernow for current volunteer projects.

Debris Removal

The scale of damage and debris from the storm is extensive. Homeowners should contact their private insurance company to see what is covered by their homeowner's insurance. Debris removal on private property is the property owner’s responsibility. If assistance is needed for debris removal, owners are encouraged to contact local contractors for assessments and cost estimates. Use caution when hiring unknown or out-of-state contractors. Be sure to get a quote for work and do not pay up front for removal or repair services. Contact your insurance company for information regarding damage claims. Save all of your receipts in case the expenses are eligible for reimbursement from insurance or a disaster relief program.

Debris collection and removal instructions are jurisdiction specific. Please follow the links below for your jurisdiction. 

Unincorporated Linn County Residents

Linn County has contracted with a specialized natural disaster recovery company Ceres Environmental Services, Inc. to assist the County in disposal of storm-generated organic debris in unincorporated Linn County. The deadline to place organic storm debris in the ROW for removal was November 9. Due to the widespread area of unincorporated Linn County, debris removal may occur after the deadline; however, organic storm debris should not be placed in the ROW after November 9. The self-haul drop-off sites closed November 16.

Residents can dispose of tree debris at either Solid Waste Agency location, 1954 County Home Road, north of Marion, and 2250 A Street SW, Cedar Rapids.

If assistance is needed for debris removal, homeowners are encouraged to contact local contractors. Be sure to get a quote for any contract work and do not pay up front for removal or repair services. Contact your insurance company for information regarding damage claims. Save all receipts in case the expenses are eligible for reimbursement from insurance or a disaster relief program.

Private Roads

Linn County's contractor, Ceres, will pick up organic storm debris on signed private roads in unincorporated Linn County as long as the road is publicly accessible by the trucks and equipment (not too narrow) and is not gated. Linn County's contractor, Ceres, cannot remove debris from gated areas. If you live in a gated area in unincorporated Linn County, you may place your organic storm debris in the nearest right-of-way equivalent on the flattest spot possible. The November 9 deadline described above also applies to private roads.

Open Burning

Linn County has extended the burn permit deferment for storm debris in unincorporated Linn County through December 31, 2020. This action allows the open burning of storm-related landscape waste, including trees and tree trimmings in unincorporated Linn County outside of the city limits of Cedar Rapids, Marion, and Hiawatha without a permit through the end of the year. However, open burning is not allowed within the half-mile buffer zone around the cities of Cedar Rapids, Marion, Hiawatha, which is zoned as Urban Services Residential (USR) or otherwise incorporated

The following conditions must be followed to help limit adverse air quality impacts and reduce risk to surrounding property.

  • Burning is to be conducted during daylight hours only (1/2 hour after sunrise until ½ hour before sunset).
  • Fires must be attended at all times during the burning.
  • Burning shall not be conducted when wind speeds exceed 15 mph.
  • Maximize the separation distance from the fire to any structure or combustible materials.  
  • Have a plan for fire extinguishment, such as a garden hose connected to a water outlet that is long enough to reach the fire.
  • A landowner may only burn organic materials that originated from their property. 
  • Demolition waste from damaged structures must be separated from the landscape waste and sent to an approved landfill for proper disposal.

Linn County Public Health reminds the public that it is illegal to burn waste, including storm debris, within the city limits of Cedar Rapids, Marion, and Hiawatha. Please contact your city hall for additional information regarding local open burning ordinances. Contact Linn County Public Health - Air Quality Branch with questions.

State of Iowa Preliminary Damage Assessment Survey

Residents with internet access are encouraged to complete their own preliminary damage assessment survey using the online form created by the State of Iowa. This form does NOT take the place of an insurance claim. The report serves as another assessment tool to help Linn County and the State identify areas that sustained damage.

Report damage here.

Home Repair Permits

To maintain safety, permits are required for the repair or reconstruction of buildings and other structures damaged by the August 10, 2020 derecho. The Linn County Board of Supervisors signed a resolution extending the waiver of building department permit fees through June 30, 2021. This waiver is for the unincorporated areas in Linn County and the cities that contract with Linn County (Alburnett, Bertram, Center Point, Lisbon, and Mount Vernon) for the repair and reconstruction of structures damaged during the August 10, 2020 storm. The fees waived include flood plain development permits, building permits (including electrical, plumbing, and mechanical permits) and zoning verifications. This waiver is retroactive to August 10, 2020. This waiver does not apply to building permit fees (including electrical, plumbing, or mechanical permits) for repair work already begun without a permit prior to the August 10, 2020 storm.  

Having the permit helps to ensure that contractors are registered with the state and the inspections verify repairs are done in compliance with minimum safety standards. Permits are also required when homeowners are completing their own repair work.

Apply for a permit.

Step-by-step application instructions (PDF).

Use of Contractors

  • Use caution when hiring unknown or out-of-state contractors.
  • Get a quote for the work.
  • Do not pay up front for repair services. 
  • Contact your insurance company for information regarding damage claims. 
  • Linn County Planning & Development staff can help property owners verify that contractors are registered, licensed, and/or insured to perform the work. Call us at 319-892-5130 or contact us by email.
  • Tips to avoid contractor fraud (PDF)
  • Victims of fraud, scams, or price-gouging can contact the Iowa Attorney General’s Office to file a consumer complaint.

Temporary Housing on Unincorporated Property

Per a resolution signed by the Board of Supervisors (PDF), residents of unincorporated Linn County who are unable to occupy their home due to storm damage may establish temporary housing on the same site as the storm-damaged home, or on a vacant parcel intended for construction of a new residence  under these conditions:

  • Temporary housing must be a mobile or manufactured home or self-contained recreational vehicle or camper
  • Home must have been placarded as “unable to occupy” (e.g. a yellow or red placard as used in the Linn County damage assessments, or similar placard as used by another government agency as part of the damage assessment process)
  • The parcel must be owned (deed or contract) by the occupants of the temporary housing unit
  • All permits must be obtained prior to placement of the temporary housing.
  • All permits for the repair of the storm-damaged home, or for construction of a new residence, must be obtained within 60 days of placement of the temporary housing unit. 
  • Temporary housing units must be removed and all utility hookups must be properly disconnected no later than 240 calendar days from August 21, 2020. A resident may request, and the Linn County Planning & Development Department may approve, a single extension not to exceed an additional 125 calendar days (for a maximum of 365 calendar days), should circumstances prevent the timely completion and occupancy of the storm-damaged home.
  • Email Linn County Planning & Development or call 319-892-5130 with questions.

Donations

Linn County Emergency Management will be closing the donation warehouse located at 4200 C Street SW in Cedar Rapids at 3 p.m. Wednesday, August 26. Material donations will not be accepted after that time and all remaining inventory will be distributed to local non-profits. Those wishing to donate material goods are encouraged to contact local non-profits to see what donation needs exist before donating items. 

With the closure of the donation warehouse, the United Way, Greater Cedar Rapids Community Foundation, Marion Chamber Foundation, Red Cross, and Salvation Army are asking those wishing to donate to consider donating financially to established relief funds. Donations can be made on the following websites: