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: 9/22/20 at 3:37 p.m.

FEMA Assistance

Linn County residents affected by the August 10 storm may be eligible to apply for the Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA) Individual Assistance Program, which provides disaster-affected homeowners, renters, and businesses with programs and services to maximize recovery, including assistance with housing, personal property replacement, medical expenses, and legal services.

Assistance can come in the form of grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses and other programs to help individuals and business owners recover from the effects of the disaster. Iowans who have registered with FEMA may be eligible for reimbursement if they paid out-of-pocket expenses for temporary lodging because their primary residences had sustained damage from the August 10 storm. Temporary lodging includes hotels, motels, or other short-term lodging while an applicant is displaced from their primary residence.

Before applying to FEMA, residents should contact their insurance company and file a claim for the disaster-caused damage. There is no need to wait for FEMA to start cleaning up, but be sure to take photographs or video of the damage and keep all receipts for repair work. Linn County residents with losses not covered by insurance should contact FEMA to apply for assistance.

How To Apply

  • Call 1-800-621-3362 or 1-800-462-7585 for TTY users. Users of 711 or Video Relay Service (VRS) may call 1-800-621-3362.The toll-free telephone numbers will operate from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. CST, seven days a week, until further notice. 
  • Applications for assistance can also be submitted by registering online at www.DisasterAssistance.gov

Linn County residents are no longer eligible to apply for the State Individual Assistance Program and should apply for the FEMA Individual Assistance Program.

You Will Need

  • Address of the damaged primary dwelling where the damage occurred
  • Current mailing address
  • Current telephone number
  • Social Security number
  • Insurance information
  • Total household annual income
  • Routing and account number for checking or savings account so FEMA may directly transfer disaster assistance funds, if you qualify
  • A description of disaster-caused damage and losses  

FEMA Disaster Recovery Center (Closing September 26)

The FEMA Disaster Recovery Center (DRC) will close in Linn County on Saturday, September 26 at 6 p.m. However, help for survivors of the August derecho will still be available. Storm survivors do not have to visit a DRC to register or submit documents to FEMA. Learn how to access FEMA assistance after the DRC closes.

Due to COVID-19, the Center is currently offering drive-through service only. Residents are asked to stay in their vehicles when visiting. Face masks are required. Residents are encouraged to start the FEMA application process before coming to the DRC.

The FEMA DRC is located at: 

The parking lot between Cedar Rapids Kernels Stadium and Kingston Stadium
950 Rockford Rd. SW
Cedar Rapids
(Enter the parking lot from the corner of Veterans Memorial Drive and Kurt Warner Way.)

Hours: Monday through Saturday, 9 a.m.-6 p.m.
Closing Saturday, September 26 at 6 p.m. 

Translators will be available on site for Spanish and ASL. All other multilingual needs will be assisted through the FEMA helpline.

More information about the DRC and FEMA application.

Multilingual FEMA Resources

  • FEMA's "Help After a Disaster" brochure is translated into 27 languages. The brochure is a tool that can help people understand the types of FEMA Individual Assistance support that may be available in disaster recovery.
  • Anyone needing translation services should call the FEMA disaster assistance number where translators are available to walk applicants through the application process. Call 1-800-621-3362 or 1-800-462-7585 for TTY users. Users of 711 or Video Relay Service (VRS) may call 1-800-621-3362. The toll-free telephone numbers will operate from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. CST, seven days a week, until further notice.  

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.

State Disaster Assistance

Disaster Case Management

Governor Reynolds has issued a disaster proclamation that includes Linn County. The proclamation activates the Disaster Case Management Program to address serious needs to overcome a disaster-related hardship, injury or adverse condition. Disaster case managers work with clients to create a disaster recovery plan and provide guidance, advice and referral to obtain a service or resource. There are no income eligibility requirements for this program; it closes 180 days from the date of the governor's proclamation. For information on the Disaster Case Management Program, contact your local community action association or visit www.iowacommunityaction.org. This program is different from the State Individual Assistance Program, which is no longer available to Linn County residents due to the activation of the FEMA Individual Assistance Program.

Iowa Disaster Recovery Resources

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.

Free WiFi Locations

ImOn Communications

  • Downtown Cedar Rapids
  • McGrath Amphitheatre (475 1st St SW)
  • NewBo City Market (1100 3rd St SE)
  • Cedar Rapids ImOn Ice Arena (1100 Rockford Rd SW)

Mediacom

  • Stoney Point YMCA (300 Stoney Pt Rd SW)
  • Best Buy parking lot (4650 1st Ave NE)
  • Mediacom Office (6300 Council Street NE)
  • Hy-Vee (3600 Business Hwy 151, Marion)
  • Craft Fitness/Graybill parking lot (205 Miller Rd, Hiawatha)

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.

Shelter

The Red Cross shelter at Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Cedar Rapids closed August 29. The Linn County-owned Fillmore Cente (520 11th St. NW, Cedar Rapids) is now serving as an emergency congregate shelter until September 30, 2020, through an arrangement with the city of Cedar Rapids and Linn County. Willis Dady Homeless Services will manage the shelter while residents receive help working toward transitional housing.

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 & to Request Help

As our community transitions to long-term recovery, the Emergency Volunteer Reception Center phone number  (1-224-406-1366 ) will no longer be accepting calls. For further assistance with Derecho needs:

  • Please call Waypoint at 319-366-7999 to request assistance with housing, household damage, or debris cleanup needs.
  • For other Derecho recovery needs please call HACAP at  319-739-0056

 If you are a volunteer, please email  volunteer@uweci.org or visit www.uweci.org/volunteernow  for current volunteer projects.

Secondary Road Clearing & Closures

Secondary Road Department crews continue to clear County roads and the right-of-way of storm debris. Many roads were entirely or partially blocked from downed trees, utility lines, and signage. Do not drive around barricades. Barricades are placed for public safety. Please use extra caution while driving as debris, downed utility lines, and missing or damaged signage are still creating hazards on roadways.

Linn County road closures are posted at https://www.iceasb.org/roads/county/linn/51702. Please be aware that road status can change at any time and will be updated as soon as possible.

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. With the help of Ceres, the County has opened four self-haul drop-off sites for residents of unincorporated Linn County to use to dispose of their organic storm debris, in addition to the two Solid Waste Agency locations. There is no charge to rural residents to drop off their organic storm debris at these four locations below. The Dows Farm and Morgan Creek Park locations are no longer available for public drop-off.

These sites are open daily from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

  • County Home Road
    1888 County Home Rd
    (Former Abbe home location)

  • Mount Vernon Secondary Road Shop
    788 Cedar River Road
    Mount Vernon

  • Whittier Secondary Road Shop
    721 County Home Road
    Springville

  • Wickiup Hill Outdoor Learning Center
    10260 Morris Hills Rd
    Toddville
    (Continue straight at the end of Morris Hills Rd – do not enter the Wickiup Hill parking lot)

Special Instructions

  • The sites are for organic storm debris only (trees, brush, vegetation) for residents of unincorporated Linn County only due to FEMA reimbursement regulations.
  • These locations are self-haul, drop-off only. Staff is not available to help unload debris.
  • Tie down or cover your loads to prevent debris from falling out during transport.
  • Use caution around the heavy equipment at the drop-off sites.

In addition to the above locations, rural 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. 

Residents in unincorporated Linn County who are unable to dispose of their organic debris on their own may place it near their drive entrance for Linn County to remove. Debris placed for removal should not block the roadway or sight lines and must be accessible by road crews. When possible, cut tree limbs into 10 feet long sections. crews expect to make three passes through the unincorporated areas. Linn County will send a notification when the second and third passes begin. Sign up for the notifications here and select "Linn County front Page News."

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.

Linn County Secondary Road crews reviewed these roads (PDF) the week of September 1, and the roads with organic debris on them were provided to Ceres. County staff will review the roads again and provide another update to Ceres. View as map (PDF).

Report ROW Organic Debris Removal Needs

All residents who live in unincorporated Linn County are encouraged to contact the Secondary Road Department if they have placed organic debris in the ROW for pick up. This will help the department identify the removal needs faster. Email the Secondary Road Department or call 319-892-6400.

Open Burning

Open burning is once again banned on all properties within the half-mile buffer zone around Cedar Rapids, Marion, and Hiawatha due to the dry conditions and piles of dry vegetation that is extremely ignitable.

Burn permit requirements continue to be deferred in unincorporated Linn County through September 30, 2020, allowing 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. No open burning permits are required during the enforcement discretion period in the designated area. Demolition waste from damaged structures must be separated from the landscape waste and sent to an approved landfill for proper disposal. A landowner may only burn organic materials that originated from their property. 

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.    

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.

Preliminary Damage Assessments

Linn County Planning & Development staff and Linn County Assessor staff are conducting damage assessments in unincorporated areas in Linn County and the cities of Alburnett, Bertram, Center Point, Lisbon, and Mount Vernon. They will document major and minor damage to structures. Major damage includes structural damage. Minor damage includes exterior such as siding, shingles, and windows. This preliminary data will be shared with the Linn County Emergency Management Agency and the State of Iowa for damage assessment purposes. This assessment does NOT take the place of an insurance claim.

Linn County staff performing the assessments will have proper identification.

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, required permits are necessary in the repair or reconstruction of buildings and other structures damaged by the August 10, 2020 derecho storm. However, the Board of Supervisors has waived building department permit fees for the unincorporated areas in Linn County and the cities they contract with (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 through December 31, 2020. 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.  

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.

Conservation Parks, Trails & Campgrounds

Several Linn County Conservation parks, trails, and natural areas sustained heavy damage from the August 10 derecho and clean-up continues. Some park areas remain closed. Campgrounds have reopened and are available for use. 

Damage was widespread and sporadic along our trail system. Debris removal is continuing along the Cedar Valley Nature Trail, Grant Wood Trail, and Hoover Trail. Be advised that crews and heavy equipment will be entering and exiting trails and some sections could be closed without announcement for temporary work. 

Read the full Conservation update as of September 17.

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: