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Storm and high wind cause damage in North Liberty

By Lori Lindner
North Liberty Leader
NORTH LIBERTY– It was here and gone quickly, but Eastern Iowa’s severe weather last Thursday, Sept. 19, left plenty of reminders in its wake.
People in several North Liberty neighborhoods were surveying and cleaning up after heavy wind and rain damaged homes, outdoor equipment and other structures Friday morning, including the Greer family.
Jen and Brian Greer and their three children live on Grizzly Trail in Fox Run development. Brian, an Iowa City firefighter, was away at a training in Ames, Jen was picking up their son at Van Allen Elementary School in North Liberty, their high schooler was driving home from West High and Connor Greer was home when the storm hit their neighborhood, at about 6:15 p.m.
“I was on the couch watching TV,” said Connor. “It was light outside about five minutes before the storm hit. Then all the sudden it got dark. I could see the wind picking up.”
The next thing he saw when he looked out the front window was “all our stuff flying around,” Connor said.
He called his mother to report that when he opened the door between the house and the garage, he saw that the garage doors were gone, and its contents were being carried away by the wind.
“And then he said he thought the outside wall was gone, too,” Jen added. “I was screaming at him, ‘Get to the basement!’”
The extreme winds only lasted about five or 10 minutes, Connor estimated. Within a short time, Jen was home and neighbors were checking to make sure the family was okay. The entire outside wall of the garage was torn away, and bits of insulation from the walls were littered about neighboring lawns like snowflakes. A canoe that had been anchored to the wall was blown into the back yard, said Jen, and “I’m pretty sure it went through the neighbor’s fence. It ended up in their back yard.”
Volunteer firefighters from the North Liberty fire department– on which Brian served before going full time in Iowa City– brought trucks to the house Thursday night to provide lighting so they could drape tarps in place of the missing wall. On Friday, several members of the Iowa City Fire Department came to help with clean up.
“We are all fine,” Jen said. “That’s the most important thing.”
The Greers were among many who suffered damage and debris due to the storm. Ridgewood Cemetery had a few large trees that were completely broken off mid-trunk and lying atop headstones, and many large branches were lying throughout the cemetery. North Liberty Streets Superintendent Don Colony said his department had received a lot of calls Friday morning, and that his crews would be picking up brush and branches beginning Monday morning. Colony said several street signs and power lines were blown down.
“At 6:21 p.m., we were getting 73 mph winds,” recorded by the city’s weather station, Colony said, storm moved with great speed. “We have three cameras that were recording the storm; one at Interstate 380, one at Kansas Avenue and one at Jones Boulevard,” said Colony. The camera at Kansas Avenue was actually spun around by the wind, and 10 seconds later, the storm was at Jones Boulevard.”
Colony said in the Deerfield residential development, about every other house is missing shingles. The stormed seemed to move similarly to a tornado in that it traveled in a northeast direction, but the trees and cornfields in its path were laid down flat, and not twisted like a tornado would typically do.
The city’s weather station recorded that North Liberty got 1.87 inches of rain during the week, accounting for 97.39 percent of all the rainfall received so far in the month of September.