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Learning From Others

By Brian Buethe, President, CEO, Grimes Chamber & Economic Development

August 2021 Newsletter Article

It is no surprise that the weather is often a topic that is brought up in casual conversation. It is something that impacts everyone, all the time, in one way or another.

Depending on your circumstance, you might be hoping for different types of weather than someone down the road. If you’re planning a picnic, for example, you don’t want to see rain in the forecast. If you’re raising crops, you might be hoping for an inch or two to help bolster yields.


We can typically all agree that severe weather is something we would like to avoid. Downpours that result in flooding, ice storms, extreme drought events, blizzards, tornadoes, etc.; we can do without these. Just last month, a good portion of our community was impacted by a significant hail producing thunderstorm. While this isn’t at impactful as larger events like hurricanes, tornadoes, and other natural disasters, it is still problematic and can leave a mess.


One memorable Iowa weather event occurred on Memorial Day weekend, 2008. A storm system in northern Iowa produced at EF-5 tornado that stayed on the ground for 43 miles. It was destructive and deadly. The community of Parkersburg, Iowa sustained significant damage and their community lost seven people as a result of the tornado.  Many others were injured. Houses, schools, and other important properties were completely destroyed.


Having friends who lived in Parkersburg at the time, I stopped by to help them gather what was left of their belongings in the wake of that event.  It was the type of disaster that changed the lives of the people and their community as a whole. However, as with many terrible events, there were silver linings. People came together to help one another in the wake of the event. That was heartwarming to witness. But their long-term recovery, the reinvesting, reinventing and rebuilding is what has been intriguing to me.


Their community rebounded in a way that many other communities impacted by similar disasters could not. Their recovery took place much faster than other communities dealing with similar circumstances. How did they manage to rebound? There are lessons for other communities, including Grimes, in their example. Residential and commercial property owners were well insured. When the disaster occurred, they were able to quickly get their claims submitted. Having local agents, in many cases, ensured that real conversations with familiar faces could take place.

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