There aren’t many weather events more fearsome than a derecho. But few seemed to notice the one that just hit the U.S. Midwest.

A derecho is a powerful, long line of thunderstorms that NOAA says “produce destruction similar to that of a tornado.” Such a storm system pummeled Cedar Rapids, Iowa and the surrounding region on Aug. 10. Winds hit speeds of some 110 mph — equivalent to a Category 2 hurricane.

Yet you might not have noticed, amid the nationwide chaos sown by the Trump administration’s failure to quell a disease outbreak that’s taken at least 168,000 American lives (as of Aug.15), the continued depravity of racist policing, a relentlessly warming climate, the Trump administration manipulating the National Park Service, and the president’s candid attempts to hobble the U.S. Postal Service before Americans send in a deluge of election ballots during the worst pandemic in a century.

“Nearly every home has damage,” wrote Cedar Rapids resident Ben Kaplan earlier this week. “Most big trees in the city fell. Most local businesses are closed. Every business is damaged. Most roads are impassable.”

What’s more, some 10 billion acres of Iowa crops were damaged during the intense squall. “A staggering toll,” tweeted Steve Bowen, a meteorologist and risk analyst. Well over 160,000 “customers” (which implies way more people) lost power.

Though a derecho itself isn’t a consequence of a warming climate, the event underscores how vulnerable U.S. infrastructure is to storms that are dumping significantly more rain and hurricanes that are expected to grow more intense as the planet warms.

What follows is the grim scene. Iowa’s News Now has a list of ways to help or donate.

Cecil Gott helps removes a tree that fell on his neighbors home.

Cecil Gott helps removes a tree that fell on his neighbors home.

Image: Charlie Neibergall / AP / Shutterstock

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