Farming is a risky business

Published 2:42 pm Wednesday, September 16, 2020

The farmer planted corn on April 11 in a field on Travis Road west of Columbia, and, after much cultivation and spraying, he harvested the crop of Sept. 4, without incident. Other farmers in Tyrrell County have had similar experiences this year.

Not so for many farmers elsewhere.

Here’s a report by Max Handley, 85, a reporter and historian in Marble Rock, Iowa, as published in the September issue of the Marble Rock Journal:

“I learned a new word this past week – “derecho”. Not surprising since there are many words in the English

language I have never heard of before. If you are like me, you looked up the definition. Here is what I found: a derecho (pronounced similar to “deh-REY-cho”) is a widespread, long-lived straight-line wind that is associated with a band of rapidly moving showers or thunderstorms.

“Although a derecho can produce destruction similar to the strength of tornadoes, the damage typically is directed in one direction along a relatively straight swath. Some compare it with a hurricane on the ground.

“Now that we have a name, a derecho created damage likes of which have never been seen before crossing four states, Monday, August 10, 2020. The storm ran 770 miles with winds of 90-100 miles per hour. One weather reporting station measured a gust of 140 miles per hour which is substantially higher than the old record of 122.

“Iowa was hit the worst of the four states and depending on the source of your news, one-half of the corn and soybean crops were lost.

“One report stated 400,000 homes and businesses were without electricity; I think you also have to count REC and Mid-America Energy in this number. Alliant Energy reported the loss of electricity to 256,000 homes and businesses with 3,000 poles down. They had line crews from a number of states making repairs. First I heard everyone would have power back by Tuesday, August 18th. Then I hear this was pushed back to Friday August 21st.

“Cedar Rapids was hit the hardest of any of the areas, and when compared to the 2008 Flood the derecho is substantially worse. The flood went out of its banks and created severe damage but came to a point the water did not extend any further. The derecho created damage throughout the entire city. I read 8,273 houses were destroyed or suffered major damage as it moved over Iowa. Agricultural losses were stated to be $3.78 billion.