KXEL Morning News for Fri. Aug. 14, 2020

KXEL Morning News for Fri. Aug. 14, 2020

Officials say it will take another five days or longer to restore power to some Iowa homes and businesses that have been without electricity after a wind storm left historic damage across the Midwest on Monday and killed at least four people. At a news conference yesterday, Cedar Rapids city manager Jeff Pomeranz talked about the scope of the damage compared with past weather events and said it was worse than the flooding of 2008 or 2016. 

The afternoon news conference was held after many storm victims said they are frustrated by the response by the City and its leaders. In an interview with our coverage partner TV9, Mayor Brad Hart said that in the immediate aftermath of the derecho, City Manager Pomeranz did not think support from the National Guard was necessary. The city now says it will re-evaluate things, but that’s contrary to a social media post from a state senator who claims the Guard will be on the ground to help with debris removal later today.

The potential loss to Iowa agriculture is also staggering, as Iowa ag secretary Mike Naig told KXEL’s Tim Harwood yesterday morning. More than 40 percent of Iowa’s corn and soybean crops may be affected.

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President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign has sued two Iowa counties that sent out absentee ballot applications in violation of state law. The Trump campaign, the Republican National Committee and other GOP groups filed the lawsuits against elections officials in Linn and Johnson counties. At issue are absentee ballot request forms the counties are sending to registered voters with personal information already filled in. We’ll talk with a Trump campaign legal advisor about the lawsuit live in the 9 o’clock hour of KXEL Live and Local today.

This week’s derecho storm has had an impact on Iowa’s second largest city beyond just structural loss according to Cedar Rapids City Manager Jeff Pomeranz, at a two-hour long news conference held by the city yesterday afternoon, the first since the storm 72 hours before. Gov. Kim Reynolds toured damage in Marion Tuesday and will see Cedar Rapids damage today, along with holding a news conference in the city at noon.

The widespread nature of the storm damage made a challenging year for Iowa agriculture even worse, according to Iowa ag secretary Mike Naig; uneven rainfall and uncertain markets, plus the pandemic, already crippled segments of the industry. Naig spoke to KXEL’s Tim Harwood yesterday; hear the full interview as a podcast at kxel-dot-com.

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This should have been the second day of the Iowa State Fair, which was cancelled in June due to COVID-19…Iowa ag secretary Mike Naig told KXEL’s Tim Harwood that the loss of the fair will create quite a gap in the lives of many Iowans but said it was the right thing to do under the circumstances. More with Secretary Naig on the topic on Iowa This Week, tomorrow at 5:45 p.m. and Sunday at 8:45 a.m.

Three quarters of Linn County residents spent a fourth night last night without power. Alliant Energy officials said at the event it may take 5 to 7 more days before all power is restored in the Cedar Rapids metro area.

Storm damage from Monday’s derecho is impacting access to state parks. The Iowa Department of Natural Resources says there is significant damage at several parks, some of which will be closed indefinitely, including Palisades-Kepler State Park and Pleasant Creek State Recreation Area in Linn County, Lake Macbride State Park in Johnson County, and Wapsipinicon State Park in Jones County…all completely closed until further notice. Other parks have damage but are still open to a limited degree.