Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Recent Midwestern derecho was like an 'inland hurricane' but hasn't seen comparable news coverage from outsiders

On Monday, Aug. 10, a storm known as a derecho wreaked havoc over a 700-mile stretch of the Midwest. But though the storm was as strong as a Level 2 hurricane and destroyed or damaged nearly half of Iowa's corn crop, the disaster isn't getting the same kind of outsider coverage that a hurricane would, Cedar Rapids Gazette columnist Lyz Lenz writes for The Washington Post.

"While the storm did garner some coverage, mostly via wire stories, its impact remains under-reported days later. The dispatches, focused on crop damage and electrical outages, have been shouted down by the coverage of the veepstakes and the fate of college football. Conservatives’ consternation over the new Cardi B single has gotten more attention than the Iowans left without power or food for what may be weeks. And all this, as the pandemic continues to wreak havoc throughout the state," Lenz writes. "Iowa’s last disaster, breathlessly covered by the media, was the caucuses. After that, everyone moved out. The dearth of coverage means we are struggling here, and no one knows."

In Iowa alone, a quarter of a million people are without power, and nearly half of the state's corn crop was damaged or destroyed. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Risk Management Agency, about 8.2 million acres of corn and 5.6 million acres of soybeans in the state were in the path of the storm, Natalina Sents reports for Successful Farming. Preliminary estimates say the storm also damaged or destroyed more than 57 million bushels of permanently licensed grain storage that will cost more than $300 million to remove, replace or repair.

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