After Destructive Derecho, Iowa Residents Dealing with Widespread Devastation

Cecil Gott removes a fallen tree that rests on the back of a neighbor's home, Friday, Aug. 14, 2020, in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

Cecil Gott removes a fallen tree that rests on the back of a neighbor's home, Friday, Aug. 14, 2020, in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. AP Photo

 

Connecting state and local government leaders

STATE AND LOCAL NEWS ROUNDUP | Postal Service warns states about possible problems with ballot delivery this fall … Washington state parks overrun with visitors … Georgia governor drops lawsuit against Atlanta mayor.

Almost a week after hurricane-like winds swept through Iowa, tens of thousands of people remained without power on Sunday. The derecho that devastated the areas around Cedar Rapids and Iowa City damaged 275,000 residential units, the state estimates. So far, state officials say they’ve spent $65 million on clean-up and recovery. The winds toppled trees, ripped roofs off houses, wiped out crops, knocked down electrical poles and left some without livable homes. "The devastation is widespread. It's intense. Block after block of houses, every one with some amount of damage. Trees piled 6 to 10 feet high along the road. It's like walking through a tunnel of green with some fluorescent orange of placard houses that are unsafe to enter," said Tyler Olson, a Cedar Rapids city council member. At one apartment complex in Cedar Rapids, immigrant families were still living in the building even though the roof was torn off many units. “I didn’t hear no sirens until our electricity went off. And then we went out and looked out the window and then it just all happened,” said Lenberg Phillip, a 14-year-old originally from Micronesia. “We were just watching out the window and then minutes later the roof came off.” National Guard units arrived to help with the debris clean up on Friday, as some questioned why support hadn’t been deployed earlier in the week.  [Iowa Public Radio; The Gazette; Des Moines Register; NPR]

MAIL BALLOTS | The U.S. Postal Service recently sent letters to 46 states and Washington, D.C., saying that it can’t guarantee in-time delivery of all ballots cast by mail for the November election. In response, some states have moved deadlines, while Pennsylvania is considering allowing ballots to be counted up to three days after election day. [Washington Post]

PARK OVERLOAD | Washington state park workers and volunteers say they are seeing huge influxes of people and dogs, and the mess both human visitors and animals create. “It becomes a pig pen depending on the number of people available to clean it and how bad people are at respecting,” said one volunteer. [Seattle Times]

GEORGIA LAWSUIT | Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp dropped his lawsuit against Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms over the city’s mask mandate, which he says go beyond the allowable restrictions in one of Kemp’s executive orders. He said he will now issue a new executive order "with relevant language." [NPR]

BUDGET CUTS | The Austin City Council voted to approve a new budget that cut nearly $150 million for the city’s police department. Some of the money taken from the police department budget will be used to fund things like emergency services, violence prevention, family violence shelters and victim services. [Austin Statesman]

Laura Maggi is the managing editor at Route Fifty and Emma Coleman is the assistant editor.

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