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Grad student focuses her research on derecho recovery efforts

A graduate student from eastern Iowa is dedicating her masters research to help better understand how people utilized resources after the derecho.
The Iowa Derecho Resource Center is now located at 1150 27th Ave SW in Cedar Rapids.
The Iowa Derecho Resource Center is now located at 1150 27th Ave SW in Cedar Rapids.(KCRG)
Published: Jan. 22, 2021 at 3:10 AM CST
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - Kayla Jones is from Blue Grass and got her undergraduate degree from University of Iowa in 2019.

Now she’s working toward her masters degree at the University of Southern Florida with a focus in disasters.

Her most recent project focuses on how Iowans had limited access to various resources immediately after the storm in August and the recovery process.

Jones was home in Iowa when the derecho hit, and saw first-hand the devastating aftermath it’s caused then and now. With her research, she hopes officials can better prepare for the future.

“I’m going to reach out to counties, cities, and emergency management teams to see if they would be interested in this data, and they could further use it to understand human behavior and how people need to be better supported after the next disaster,” said Jones.

Jones is gathering her research by asking people affected by the derecho to take a survey. It asks people about home and property damage, the financial impact of the storm, and how they received help. So far more than 1,000 people have taken the survey, and she plans to have her results by the end of June.

One resource in Cedar Rapids has been helping Iowans recover since two days after the storm.

Raymond Siddell is the founder and organizer of the Iowa Derecho Resource Center. He said preparing for a natural disaster is something that needs work in Iowa.

Siddell said the resource center was originally a one table operation that has turned into a 17,000 square foot location because so much help was needed, and is still needed.

The Iowa Derecho Resource Center allows people to come in and shop for groceries or hygiene items they need and can’t afford since the storm.

He says 165 days later, there’s still a great need for help and it’s something he hopes research can better prepare us for next time. Siddell said they’ve been open six days a week since they first opened in August.

“Early on, we were all frustrated with the local government and we thought that they should be doing more. As time as gone on, I think we’ve all learned that not only were they not necessarily prepared because we have no experienced this before, but not everybody understood their roles. And it’s super important that everybody understands that,” said Siddell.

Jones is asking anyone who lived through the Derecho to take her survey.

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