10 million acres

Iowa got clobbered a few days ago. Really clobbered. Nobody is paying attention.

On Monday, Iowa was leveled by what amounted to a level-two hurricane. But you wouldn’t know that from reading, listening to or watching the news.

Gusts of 112 mph were recorded in Linn County. As I drove through the town of Cedar Rapids on Monday, I saw billboards bent in half, whole buildings collapsed, trees smashed through roofs and windows. The scope and breadth of the disaster is still being calculated, but by some estimates, more than 10 million acres, or 43 percent, of the state’s soybean and corn crops have been damaged.

A quarter of a million Iowans are still without power. In Linn County, where I live, 79 percent of people are without power, still, three days after the disaster. Cell service is spotty, where it exists. The few gas stations and grocery stores with power only take cash. And good luck getting cash from your bank, which is most likely closed. Even if you have the money, lines snake around the gas stations, two hours long or more, and the grocery stores are chaos. A citywide curfew exists. You can see the Milky Way from the darkened downtown.

You know what all those days without power mean, right? A whole lot of spoiled food, and not much other food available.

My friend Ben Kaplan, a local photographer and videographer, described the situation this way: “There is no trash pickup. There are one hundred thousand fridges of rotting food. There are raccoons. There is no escape from the heat, except to run out of town to look for basic supplies in an air-conditioned car. Downtown, bricks and glass litter the sidewalks. Plate glass windows shattered during the storm. Many businesses have been physically destroyed. All restaurants lost all of their perishables. Factories are closed. Offices are closed. The economy — the whole thing — is stopped.” All of the destruction is compounded by complications from the pandemic, which make cleanup, charging stations and distributing meals all the more difficult.

And yet, unless you were living here, you wouldn’t know.

But hey, football.

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