One month after the derecho

Storm Update – September 17, 2020

September 17th, 2020

One month after the derecho

It has been over one month since the derecho, a storm with winds in excess of 110 mile per hour, caused extensive damage in Eastern Iowa and at Brucemore. The Brucemore staff has transitioned from the immediate crisis mode into what is expected to be a long recovery process.

Initial assessments estimate $2.5 million in damage to the seven historic and three modern structures, outdoor statuary and other historic features, and 26-acres of gardens, orchard, wooded areas, and cultural landscape. Insurance will not cover all of this damage.

View two photo albums via facebook to get a glimpse of the damage and recovery, including:

Staff, with the help of OPN Architects, documented the damage and provided initial recommendations for the buildings. Rinderknecht Associates tarped the roofs of multiple buildings in the immediate days following the storm to prevent further water damage. Staff removed outdoor statuary from the estate where possible and built protections around pieces that could not be relocated indoors. Multiple insurance adjusters have visited the site to gather information.

The most notable structural damage occurred with the slate roof of the mansion, the historic Lord & Burnham Greenhouse, the modern Ludy Greenhouse, and the decorative metal Linden Drive gate. This damage will be reparable but will require significant resources and time, as well as external experts in preservation, conservation, and landscape curation.

Staff have divided the estate into zones to focus tree and debris removal on the most critical areas. Multiple tree removal contractors have been focusing on hanging limbs and trees beyond the scope of internal resources. Based on discussions between Trees Forever and Brucemore staff, as well as certified arborists, the site is expected to lose hundreds of trees and 70% of the canopy. This includes over 50 trees that are more than a century old.

While tours of the estate have ceased due to the damage, the two music programs originally scheduled to open the week of the derecho were still held. The talent rescheduled to start the four-week series two weeks late. Over 1,000 people enjoyed a relaxing night under the stars and 15 artists had the opportunity to share their talent and passion for the first time in months. Brucemore will continue supporting the cultural community in October through an outdoor theater experience and partnership with Theatre Cedar Rapids. The production of St. Nicholas will be held in the Carriage House courtyard, building on the tested experience and COVID-19 mitigation from the music series. 

The grounds remain closed to the public outside of designated programming. This facilitates access of multiple large contractor vehicles assisting recovery efforts and is for the safety of everyone involved. 

To support recovery efforts, donate to the Pride & Preservation campaign, which has designated a portion of funds for landscape recovery. More information will be shared regarding volunteer opportunities to assist with site clean-up in October.