Expecting success in the face of great adversity brought by derecho

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Reflecting on the derecho one year later

As I reflect on the past year since the Aug. 10 derecho, I am struck by the resilience, strength and neighborliness of our community. The generosity and commitment to helping those most in need that our community exhibited immediately after the storm truly illustrates what it means to be “CR Strong.”

None of us could have anticipated or prepared for the severe damage that the derecho would leave in its wake. Four Oaks and its affiliate organizations, Jane Boyd and the Affordable Housing Network, Inc., experienced over $1 million of damage that was not covered by insurance and across our various locations in the area, lost an estimated 400 trees.

These numbers do not even begin to illustrate the mental, emotional and physical toll that the storm had not only on the children and families we serve but also on our staff and community partners. However, in the face of disaster and crisis, our agency and the community came together and asked, “What can we do to help?”

I witnessed countless good deeds following the storm — from staff helping get generators set up at our residential programs to volunteers helping pass out hot food and non-perishables in the hardest-hit neighborhoods. One staff member even went as far as independently raising nearly $5,000 to distribute supplies to anyone in need in the community, including current and past clients of the agency.

We did not have power, cellphone service or, for some of us, running water. Despite these challenges, staff worked tirelessly to ensure that our children and families were being taken care of and getting connected to resources and supports. They then turned their attention to helping their colleagues clean up the damage and begin the recovery process.

Four Oaks’ vision is “Expect Success.” I truly saw this vision lived out as the community and our agency came together to stand strong as the mighty oak in the face of great adversity.

A year later, as we continue to see needs of those affected by the derecho persist, Four Oaks, Jane Boyd and the Affordable Housing Network, Inc., remain committed to ensuring the success of the children and families we serve.

The generosity, strength and neighborliness I saw in countless actions in the weeks following the derecho continue to inspire me. As we reflect on last year’s natural disaster, I urge you to continue to lead your lives with that same CR Strong spirit, ensuring that all members of our community have the support and resources to achieve success — no matter the challenges that blow through our lives.

-Debbie Craig, Chief Advocacy Officer


Click here to see Debbie's guest column featured in the Cedar Rapids Gazette.