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Stories from the Field: Emails, Cards, and More from Iowa

Residents of all ages show support for the Danella team that restored power in the Hawkeye State.

On August 10th, 2020, a cluster of severe storms known as a derecho tore through the Midwest, hitting eastern Iowa hard. Belle Plaine, Iowa, and surrounding communities endured wind gusts as high as 112 mph that left 450,000 residents without power.

The call came in to Danella from Iowa, and on August 13th, Danella’s Storm Team – 170 linemen, superintendents, logistics experts, and managers – were sent to Belle Plaine. When they arrived, they were stunned by what they saw.

“In terms of devastation, this is the second worst storm I’ve ever seen,” explains Joe Gural, Safety Manager for Danella Power Services, Inc. “Houses destroyed, trees down and power lines down, infrastructure ravaged. It was horrific.”

Restoration began by addressing the larger aspects of infrastructure that had been impacted by the storm – namely, transmissions and sub-transmissions. Once those were up and running, teams fixed and replaced telephone poles, pole crossarms, and associated hardware and rehung displaced conductors.

“We move from the macro to the micro. We fixed the larger grid first,” Gural explains.

With the larger portions of the system safely reenergized, it was time to restore power to individual buildings and homes. Crews began going from pole to pole, making sure each house was connected to the power grid correctly and safely. As is often the case, this is when teams had the most interaction with nearby residents.

“Residents often approach us and ask when their power will be back on,” Gural says. “But Belle Plaine took things one step further.”

Belle Plaine residents showed up with food and water, and offered to lend a hand in any way they could. Town leadership was just as supportive. Belle Plaine’s executive director passed along one particularly heartwarming show of support: A hand-drawn card from a little girl named V.

“In crayon V had written, ‘Thank you for helping our town,’” Gural says.

It’s good to know that we’re making a positive impact on lives in a time of need.

The handmade card was placed in one of Danella’s trucks. The next day, something funny happened.

“I was driving around a neighborhood checking in with crews when a woman standing outside of her home noticed the name Danella on my truck,” Gural remembers. “She pointed and said, ‘My daughter wrote you a card!’ I was like, ‘I have it right there!’”

Gural called a few crew members – including a female crew member – to come meet the family. Touched by V’s excitement, they returned to the home a few days later with the gift for Danella’s littlest biggest fan.

Danella employees with V

Danella employees with V

Power was restored to most residents within ten days of the derecho. When the Storm Team returned home, they learned that additional gratitude had flooded Danella’s offices – emails, Facebook messages, and more from grateful Belle Plaine area residents who saw how hard Danella worked and wanted to express their thanks. Among them was a note from V’s mom. She thanked the crew again, adding how excited V was to see a woman on Danella’s team.

“It truly signified heroism, diversity, and ‘girl power’ and I love that V could see those qualities in this female worker,” V’s mom wrote.

For the Storm Team that travels far from home to help others, the notes were a reminder of the importance of the work they do.

“It’s good to know that we’re making a positive impact on lives in a time of need,” Gural says.

Click to learn more about our storm restoration services.