Light in the darkness

Ava Hunt, News Writer

One hundred and forty miles per hour winds. Thirty minutes. One community left destroyed, and countless selfless citizens stepping up. 

       On August 10, a derecho storm swept through the Midwest, leaving a path of destruction where it went. The city of Cedar Rapids was hit with winds up to 140 miles per hour, and much of the Xavier community was affected by this storm. The people of Cedar Rapids rallied together to help those in need by giving their time and donating food, water and needed supplies. 

       The Xavier community also helped those struggling around Cedar Rapids by lending their time, effort and support. 

      “After the derecho, it was obvious that we as Saints had to step up to the plate and serve those who needed it the most after the storm. Many served those in their own towns and neighborhoods, but then started to reach out to see who else needed a helping hand. We set up a place where people could call or text if they needed anything or wanted to help and I tried my best to mobilize teams of volunteers,” Liz Donner, Xavier school counselor said. “We even were able to help out at many of the other Xavier Catholic Schools and parishes. The football team, volleyball team, staff, and community leaders really showed up and were able to help one another out with anything from meals to moving trees.”

       Outside of the Xavier community, there were many organizations that came together and helped people struggling as well. Shelby Christensen (X13), an employee of a program of the Zach Johnson Foundation worked in food tents run by Operation BBQ to provide hot meals the week after the storm. 

       “Each day, I coordinated eight to ten volunteers as we packaged and handed out meals to folks at the food site. We gave a meal to anyone who needed one. With power out across the city, many folks were unable to prepare hot home cooked meals,” Christensen said. “This issue disproportionately impacted many of the families that I work with, as many are food insecure. This means that on a regular basis, they don’t have access to affordable, healthy food. Our site averaged about 1,000 lunches a day.”

       Christensen said that 70,360 meals were served through this program in one week between 10 different sites in the Cedar Rapids area. 

       After all of the wreckage the derecho caused the city of Cedar Rapids, the community showed up in big ways to help each other. This support helped thousands of people and showed that even in dark moments, a light shines through.