Iowans continue to deal with the aftermath of the ferocious derecho storm that roared across the Midwest on Monday.
The storm, with straight-line winds that reached nearly 100 mph in parts of Iowa, swept across Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin and Michigan before losing steam.
There have been three confirmed deaths related to the storm in Iowa. One other person was killed in Indiana.
As of midday Friday, some 140,000 customers remained without power in Iowa, according to poweroutage.us. Another 60,000 were without power in Illinois.
Iowa will submit its application for a federal disaster declaration on Monday, and Iowans should have power fully restored by Tuesday, Gov. Kim Reynolds said Friday.
Her comments came as she provided updates on the state’s response in Cedar Rapids, where thousands of residents are still coping with the aftermath of Monday’s derecho.
“I want Cedar Rapids and Linn County, and all those that have been impacted by this national disaster, to know that the entire state of Iowa stands with you,” she said. She said she has already spoken to President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence about the need for help and is hopeful the disaster application will be approved quickly.
Cedar Rapids was the state’s hardest-hit city, where officials said Thursday the damage left by Monday’s derecho was more extensive than the 2008 flood that destroyed much of its downtown.
Reynolds said 100 engineers with the Iowa National Guard had mobilized in Cedar Rapids, and the state is working on setting up cooling shelters and charging stations.
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The straight-line winds that toppled trees and power lines across much of Iowa was “unlike anything our company has ever seen,” Alliant Energy spokesman Mike Wagner said. Hundreds of workers were assessing damage and clearing trees that have blocked roads and power lines, he said.
A spokesman for ITC Midwest – which maintains much of the transmission infrastructure for Alliant and other utilities – said Monday’s derecho caused the worst damage to transmission lines in the company’s history, the Cedar Rapids Gazette said.
Cedar Rapids city manager Jeff Pomeranz said the storm touched every square mile of the city of 133,000 people, destroyed thousands of trees, damaged homes and businesses and prompted a record number of calls for emergency assistance. He said hospitals were also overwhelmed with emergency room visits by those injured or in need of other medical treatment.
“This is a disaster that we have never seen before. It is something that was essentially like a hurricane coming through the Midwest” without advance notice, said U.S. Rep. Abby Finkenauer, a Democrat who represents Cedar Rapids in Congress.
Several residents and a major labor union had criticized Reynolds for not moving faster to provide aid after Monday’s storm.
“Everybody is doing the best they can,” Reynolds said at the news conference in Cedar Rapids.
Several residents said they were struggling to meet their basic needs and growing increasingly frustrated.
Across Iowa, the storm also hit about 10 million acres of crops, Gov. Reynolds said earlier this week. The Iowa Department of Agriculture said the storm affected roughly a third of the state, which grows about 32 million acres of corn, soybeans and other crops.
During a news conference Tuesday, Reynolds said farmers have told her the damage “has just been devastating … they have never seen anything like this.”
Reynolds has declared 23 counties disaster areas, making them eligible for state aid.
Fortunately, although some severe weather is possible in portions of Iowa on Friday afternoon and evening, there is no forecast of another derecho, which is a very rare weather event. And good weather is in the forecast after Friday: “After clouds clear Saturday, ample sunshine, seasonable and mainly dry conditions will prevail into early next week,” the National Weather Service in Des Moines said.
Contributing: The Des Moines Register; The Associated Press
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Derecho, Iowa: 200K powerless, 4 dead from Monday hurricane-like storm