Benton County making progress on derecho damage recovery

Published: Oct. 22, 2020 at 5:11 AM CDT
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NORWAY, Iowa (KCRG) - Over two months since the August 10 derecho, recovery is still underway in Benton County, and for some, it may go well into next year.

The Benton County Emergency Management Agency said it’s in the long-term recovery phase. That includes working with city, county, and school leaders, still addressing what people’s needs are moving forward.

“I think almost every single home and business had some sort of damage, some worse than others,” Bruce Volz, the mayor of Norway, said.

Volz said community volunteers were critical in getting his town where it is now following the storm. Some homes are repaired, others are still damaged but patched and ready for the winter ahead.

“I’d say we got a pretty good handle on it really,” Volz said.

Volz said local leaders in Benton County meet regularly to address recovery needs, but much of the pressure now falls on the shoulders of area contractors.

“The scheduling is actually taken care of a lot better now,” Rion Schulze, the owner of a roofing company in Norway, said. “We know our days, we know who needs us, and we know who is going to wait until spring, we know all that now.”

Schulze said he’s booked well into next year. He’s had to prioritize customers, focusing on those with temporary roofing or immediate need.

Also in Norway, more signs of progress as work on the Saint Michael’s church steeple is underway.

“The first day after the storm the cars were going by taking pictures, crying because it’s the community, this is the symbol of the community,” Father Craig Steimel said.

Steimel said crews are rushing to get the brickwork down on the 135 feet tall, 130-year-old steeple that came crashing down in the storm. The church’s bells are in Cincinnati for repairs, but he’s hoping to get them back soon to provide a familiar sound of hope throughout the town.

“So we can get them in the steeple, so it will be a symbol. Another sign of progress for recovery because the bells are such an important part in the community, people hear them cause we are the only church that rings bells, so they hear us and know we are here,” Steimel said.

The Benton County Disaster Recovery Coalition is available to assist Benton County residents impacted by the derecho. The organization requests people apply to insurance and then FEMA, first. If there are still unmet needs for their primary residence the Coalition may be able to help. For more information, contact 319-241-5121.

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