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Iowa Guard members clear debris after derecho storm

  • Published
  • By Senior Master Sgt. Vincent De Groot
  • 185th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs

Iowa National Guard Airmen and Soldiers are assisting with cleanup operations in eastern Iowa this week following a severe windstorm that caused widespread damage.

Airmen from the Iowa Air Guard’s 185th Air Refueling Wing Civil Engineering Squadron based in Sioux City joined Army National Guard Soldiers in Cedar Rapids where they are clearing downed trees so utility companies can reconnect power.

Senior Master Sgt. Dave Twohig, 185th ARW, is with a team of Airmen and Soldiers in Cedar Rapids working to restore power.

“I’ve seen storm damage before, but I have never seen it for miles and miles, like this,” said Twohig.

As Guard members clear streets in Cedar Rapids, Twohig said civilian agencies are following behind to reconnect power to tens of thousands of customers.

“There is debris strewn all over the place. This is a really tough situation for the people here,” Twohig added.

The destruction is due to the weather phenomena referred to as a derecho, which is characterized by a large geographical area of damage caused by extremely high winds. The hurricane-force winds flattened crops throughout southeast Iowa and uprooted trees, causing structural damage to homes and businesses.

Twohig said as a long-time member of the Air Guard, he is happy to help fellow Iowans.

“This is what it is all about to us,” Twohig said. “Everywhere we go, people are waving and honking. It’s been humbling.”

Air Guard members are equipped with chain saws and skid loaders. Twohig said the resources, combined with Army heavy vehicles, have allowed cleanup teams to move quickly through affected neighborhoods.