Vinton marks one year since devastating wind storm
Written by Kera Mashek, Multimedia Journalist - bio | email
VINTON (KWWL) -
It's been one year since a devastating wind storm, called a "derecho", packing winds of more than 100 miles an hour swept through many eastern Iowa communities.
After the storm, it was hard just to drive through the city of Vinton. There was plenty of tree damage, and several power poles knocked down. Metal was stripped from farm buildings.
I was there after the storm hit, and revisited Vinton to see how the community is bouncing back.
As you drive into Vinton from the north, you can still see signs of what happened here one year ago. Trees down and bark split apart. But as you get into town, you'd probably never know a major storm swept through.
"I think we're really going to be back to 100 percent very shortly," said John Watson, Vinton Mayor.
But there's definitely a lot less shade in Vinton. Six hundred trees in the city's right of way have been removed. Eight hundred more stumps will be pulled out soon, and a major tree planting effort is underway. It's welcome progress since the community will soon be showcasing its recovery as a "pass-through" town on the RAGBRAI route in just two weeks.
"Most of the people on RAGBRAI that'll be going through our community will see it, many of them for the first time, and I think most of them won't even realize what we've lost. And the people that did know Vinton before will be extremely happy to see how much progress we've made since the storms and the flood," Watson said.
Mayor Watson credits the quick actions of many local citizens who pulled together, picking up and rebuilding after the storm. One example--Virginia Gay Hospital in Vinton. It's back to full operation after losing windows, a chimney, and sustaining damage to its kidney dialysis unit.
"Neighbors were pulling together to remove trees, cut things up, and remove brush. This really is a very close knit community, and we got things fixed in a very short order," said Mike Riege, Virginia Gay Hospital Administrator.
Riege still marvels at how no one was seriously hurt or killed during last summer's storm. And today, this community can reflect on its remarkable recovery, with lessons learned should another disaster strike.
The city of Vinton is still looking for volunteers to help with RAGBRAI. To learn more, you can call City Hall at (319) 472-4707.
In addition to Vinton, cyclists will also pedal through other Garwin, Clutier, Garrison, and Shellsburg -- also hit by the storm -- before stopping in Cedar Rapids overnight.
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