August 10, 2022, marks the two-year anniversary of the derecho, one of the costliest and most destructive thunderstorms in U.S. history. Many parts of Iowa were affected by the derecho’s sustained winds and gusts of 90-140 mph for up to 45 minutes causing extensive damage and power outages for hundreds of thousands of people, including Linn County residents and businesses. Our community has worked hard to recover from the destruction and to help make the improvements necessary to safeguard our community from the next disaster. This work, and replacing our lost tree canopy, will take years. The best way to remember the derecho event is to learn from it and to use that experience to build resiliency.
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, community resilience focuses on enhancing the day-to-day health and wellbeing of communities to reduce the negative impacts of disasters.
Here are five ways we can work toward building resiliency in our communities:
Take care of your physical and mental health.
Making physical health and mental wellness a priority can help make facing everyday challenges easier. And when disaster strikes, physical and mental wellbeing puts us in a better place to respond.
Build social connectedness.
People are more empowered to help one another after a major disturbance in communities in which members are regularly involved in each other’s lives. Building social connectedness can be an important emergency preparedness action and it boosts our physical and mental wellbeing.
Support local food systems and eat locally grown food.
Whether you grow your own fruits and vegetables or purchase locally grown food, you are helping to support the local food system and our environment by reducing the distance the food travels, thereby helping to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Composting at home also has many benefits including lowering your carbon footprint and enriching the soil. Learn more about how Linn County is working to improve our local food systems.
Plant native trees and shrubs, and use your landscape for flood mitigation.
Planting native trees and plants and caring for them is a great way to invest in the future of our environment. Linn County is among the many entities working to rebuild our tree canopy following the 2020 derecho. Linn County’s Sustainability Department and Conservation Department joined forces with Monarch Research’s Planting Forward initiative and other community partners on a tree equity program that provided trees to households that might otherwise not be able to access them. In addition, Linn County Conservation has already planted more than 700 native trees in Wanatee park and more than 1,450 native flowering shrubs in other Conservation areas with the help of partners. Many more plantings are planned in the future. Planting native trees and other native plants is important to help control invasive species that can wreak havoc on local ecosystems. Creating rain gardens, pocket prairies, or bioswales on personal property can be good flood mitigation efforts.
Stay informed and get involved.
The more we know about sustainability and resiliency and the more interconnected networks we build, the better equipped we are to make a meaningful difference and to be prepared for emergencies. Linn County offers several ways to stay informed and active in the community. Visit our website to subscribe to Linn County News Flashes, Week in Review, event calendars, and meeting agendas and watch for opportunities to serve on a number of voluntary boards and commissions such as the Sustainability and Resiliency Advisory Committee, the Food Systems Council, the Historic Preservation Commission, the Planning & Zoning Commission, and the Community Services Advisory Board. Visit the Linn County Planning & Development website for floodplain information and how to prepare for floods.
Being prepared is the best defense against disasters. For more information on how to build community and personal resilience, visit the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services website.