ABC member rallying for help to assist with Iowa storm damage

fallen tree on cars outside homeAn ABC member is working to help the people of Iowa who were hit hard by the August 10 derecho storm. The storm had came with hurricane strength, straight-line winds for more than 90 minutes, killing three persons, leveling homes and businesses and leaving 500,ooo residents without power.

Tiffany Olson of ABC member Engelhart Electric, Madison, is calling for volunteers from Wisconsin to help with the storm recovery. Olson said anyone can provide help through donations and materials, but there’s an especially strong need for electricians.

“There’s so many people without power.  I talked to an electrician from Justice Electric, in Cedar Rapids and he said they’re like a week out to getting to people. So even if the main utility companies are getting their transformers and their power back on, the homeowners don’t have the parts to hook up to the power,” Olson said.  “They’re even running short on wire.”

fallen powerlines

Power company crews have reportedly replaced 3,000 power poles and 1,200 miles of wire across the state as of August 20. However, more than half of Cedar Rapids residents were without power as of late, Wednesday, August 19 because connections to homes need to be restored.

“These people out there can’t afford even the electrical service to be put on their house, let alone a cost of having two-, three- or four-thousand dollars’ worth of trees being removed,” Olson said.

Anything for overhead service for homeowners is in need, especially 125- and 200-amp meter sockets. Olson was able to track down quite of bit of material from supply houses in Wisconsin, who have provided her the materials at lower costs.

Olson was in Shullsburg on Wednesday, dropping off a full SUV load of electrical equipment, such as meter sockets, weather heads, generator plugs and couplings. Iowa residents come across the state line to Shullsburg to retrieve the materials, as formal delivery channels are not functioning.

“You know, the logistics of the shipping companies run so much off of GPS and their cellular power, you know, for those computer programs to tell them where deliveries are and keep on schedule. They don’t work. Nothing’s getting to where it needs to be. Top to bottom is just a logistical nightmare.”

On top of that, many roads still remain closed due to downed trees. Olson has a realtor friend in Cedar Rapids doing tree removal or whatever else she can do to help.  On Wednesday, her friend took food to a lady who has been eating beans and wieners out of the can for the last week because residents have had to dump all their perishable food with no refrigeration.




This Facebook Group page has been established by a group of realtors for individuals to discover the many ways you can help with the recovery or you can access the United Way of East Central Iowa for a list of volunteer opportunities.

Tiffany Olson and family photo
Tiffany Olson (second from left) and her family, including Justin Engelhart (second from right) of ABC member Engelhart Electric, Madison.

Tiffany’s friend is part of a group of realtors who have put up a Facebook page as a resource for donating money, time or supplies.

Olson called the derecho storm an inland hurricane with huge power poles bent in half, billions of dollars in crop damage and radio and cell towers toppled.  Unfortunately for Iowa residents, the real impact of the storm damage has gone mostly unpublicized in the midst of a pandemic and other issues of the day.

“This is a logistical nightmare and then has to be layered inside the COVID mess. It’s just terrible.”

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