Lessons learned from the Iowa derecho last week

Readers will recall the hurricane-strength windstorm, known as a derecho, that lashed midwest US states last week.  Tens of thousands are still without power there, and much of this year’s grain crop has been destroyed.

On Gab, I found a useful “lessons learned” post from reader “Zerozerozero”.  It confirms much of what we’ve discussed in the past on this blog under the topic “Emergency Preparations“, so I thought I’d mention it here.  Here’s part of what he has to say.

You’ll see the rest of his points (in a larger viewing window) at the link.

Some of the comments from readers following his post are also worth reading – and sometimes amusing, too.  For example:

Iowa is like an ocean of dirt. It’s flat, surrounded by flat, and it hasn’t even heard of a state that isn’t flat. The state itself thinks mountains are just an ugly rumor created by the lizard people to oppress Iowans.

Even my Iowa friends are laughing at that one!



  1. Keep the gas tank at 1/2 or better! If you store alkaline batteries in your preps, check them once in a while. They're billed to last ten years. I've found that most of the time, they start LEAKING WAY before that!

  2. much of this year's grain crop has been destroyed.

    *winces* That definitely sucks for the local farmers. At least that's not the only place in the country that grows grain, though I admit to driving past ripe but un-harvested fields and wondering if they'll get the grain in before it rains heavily.

  3. Hey, as a Texas who retired to Iowa 15 years ago….
    Remember, there is MUCH MORE TO IOWA than freaking flat land!
    Get your act together and read all that is available to you people who are NOT in Iowa.
    Remember, we are between the Missouri and the Mississippi rivers.
    Plus we have THE GROTTO and ALBIA, Iowa among even more attractions.
    And keep in mind, your BACON most likely came from Iowa, along with the CORN you eat….

  4. For hurricanes, hose down a 55gal (2 trash cans better), put trash can bag/liner in trash can. Use duct tape to secure the liner and prevent it from sliding in.
    Move trash can to commonly used bathroom's bathtub and fill it up. Clean and desinfect a bucket put in next to the trash can. This trash can can be used, primarily, for flushing and such thing.
    If you have another trash can put it in the garage, next to the kitchen door or somewhere you deem more suitable.
    The trash liner makes the water potable and still can be used once water supply is restored.
    Learn how to properly use water in an emergency.

  5. Strange to hear AM/FM radio being useless. Guess it is because a feed from headquarters is broadcast, and they probably don't have local staff. Ham radio might be a better alternative.

    Peteforester's comments on gas and alkaline batteries are good. I mostly stock alkaline batteries because they are cheap, but also stock Energizer Ultimate Lithium cells because they have the longest shelf life, 3 to 7 times the running life, work below freezing, and don't leak.

  6. I don't know about the weather in Iowa, but after our hurricanes, the oppressive heat leads to burning half a tank of gas, while sitting in the air conditioned car.

  7. I have small solar panels and suitable matching chargers
    for LIPO and NiMh cells. I can literally go weeks on
    those batteries by charging a set and running another
    and many sets are handy and kept charged. I can also
    charge cell phone and laptops.

    I have chargers for a bunch of batteries and cell,
    laptop that run off the car battery

    Ham Radio is useful and I have several small radios.
    They are low power but 60ft or wire and a little
    effort for an antenna and I'm on the air. Beats a
    dead cell tower. I also have higher power radios that
    run off truck/car battery and antenna bugout kits.

    Assuming the house what not damaged then I have a
    medium power solar charged battery system that
    runs a lot of stuff. (lights, broadcast radio,
    ham radio, TV, local network).

    That and gensets I have no reason to be in the dark
    and out of communication.


  8. For emergency water storage; check out something called a "Waterbob." You can get one on Amazon for $35.00. This is a single-use bladder that you lay in your bathtub and fill. It allows you to fill the tub all the way to the top. It holds 100 gallons. You don't have to clean the tub before filling. It keeps the water clean; no debris falling into the water and no dogs lapping at it. It has a hose for dispensing the water. Until needed, it's small enough to store in a bathroom drawer! This thing's a no-brainer!

  9. Coming back to Dallas from Waco Monday I passed a convoy of electrical service trucks heading North on I-35. I bet they are going to help get Iowa back up and running. Bless them each and everyone.

  10. Actually just researching how to use the hybrid battery in my Prius as a generator. Prius is really just a very big generator on wheels. (I know, I know – Prius. But with the amount of driving I do, I’m getting about 93% return on my mileage allowance).

    Most applications are just hooking an inverter to the 12v battery – which can be done with any vehicle, but with the Prius, it doesn’t need to be constantly running as the hybrid battery recharges the 12v and when it runs down the engine will start to recharge it.. But I’d like to find a safe way to hook directly to the 200v hybrid battery.

  11. From an off grid Alaskan. Our primary lighting is plumbed in propane lights. It is just not practical to light them for after bed time activities. My wife uses an led lantern to get around when needed and a four cell flashlight when checking out things that go bump in the night. I have one of those flashlights but use led headlamps for outer purposes including reading in bed. I also have a high power rechargeable head lamp for when I need hands free to fix something or whatever. Just some ideas.

  12. Iowa is flat.

    That's a laugh. According to wikipedia, Hawk's Point, at 1670 ft., is the highest point in Iowa. The highest point in Florida is 341 ft.

    Jess, I take it you are in Florida, or the Gulf Coast?

  13. we had one in 2012, lost power for ten of the hottest days on record. eneloop rechargeable batts. small solar setup to run recharger, computer, fans. radio was worthless as was local tv and everything else. day 5 the net came back up and was able to link up with my nasty guard buddies who gave me the scoop. was able to find ice and gas 50 miles away, supplied the hood for the duration. also found out some fancy refrigerators don't work on modified sine wave. bought a tiny a/c unit on day 7 and at least could sleep cool. plenty of gas stored/rotated. water jug painted black makes a passable shower. few of my lessons.

  14. I have an acquaintance that lives "12 blocks from downtown" Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Yesterday was day 9 without power for him, but power did get restored across the street yesterday. Also yesterday, they were told that the numbers had been crunched and the wind speeds in Cedar Rapids had officially hit 150 MPH during the storm.

    WaterBricks are also viable option for long term and emergency water storage. Not necessarily the cheapest solution, but they do stack and are a quality product.

  15. Honestly LED flashlights have made my life soooooo much easier.

    I'm an old fart who remembers carbon batteries and crap incandescent flashlights. Hey kids, ever watch an old movie and see a character turn on his flashlight on and immediently point it at his face? That because even with 2 D cells they were so dim it was hard to tell if they were on most of the time.

    Now I have AA flashlight that'll give useful light for a month solid. Or light up the surface of the moon for about a minute.

    The only other item I didnt realize how much it mattered was a small battery powered fan. I made up some 12v 3 cell 18650 packs to run a low speed high volume 8" computer case fan. It's always humid and nasty when a storm knocks the power out and a little airflow really helps me get decent sleep.

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