Page County was among 50 Iowa counties included in a disaster proclamation issued by Gov. Kim Reynolds after severe winds and tornadoes ripped through the state Dec. 15.
Page County Emergency Management Coordinator Kris Grebert met with the Page County Board of Supervisors Dec. 21 by Zoom to update the board on the damage sustained in the county. Grebert said the storm has been classified as a derecho, which “is a widespread, long-lived wind story that is associated with a band of rapidly moving showers or thunderstorms,” according to the National Weather Service.
“I did request that Page County be added to that declaration so that we could get some public assistance for businesses and government entities, and individual assistance for our citizens,” Grebert said.
Grebert said the majority of the damage in Page County occurred west of Clarinda. Along with extensive tree damage and numerous downed power lines, he also observed numerous examples of more severe damage in the western portion of the county.
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“Shenandoah had a couple of houses that had trees go through them. So there was major structural damage to a couple of houses,” Grebert said. “(There were) houses without power for days. It was up until Saturday night, Sunday morning before power was restored to some houses.”
In the country, Grebert said there were reports of machine sheds and barns blown over by the high winds. A number of garages and car ports also sustained damage in the storm.
“The whole city of Essex was without power for a couple of days. We did set up an emergency shelter at their City Hall, which has a backup generator. The City of Essex did a great job of having that up and running really quickly. So, I commend them in that,” Grebert said.
Supervisor Chairperson Chuck Morris said the clock tower atop the Page County Courthouse in Clarinda also sustained some damage in the storm. Grebert said there was also damage to the emergency radio equipment attached to the Southwest Regional Water District water tower.
However, Grebert said no cost estimate for the damage reported in the county is available yet.
Grebert said he also completed his first referral Dec. 20 for a private citizen seeking public assistance through the disaster proclamation. Grebert said other individuals requesting assistance should contact this office at 200 S. 15th St. in Clarinda or by telephone at 712-542-1422.
“We really appreciate all your effort and all your time spent helping people. I know you touched a lot of people who were clearly in need, so thank you for that,” Morris said.
Later in the meeting, Michelle Jordan addressed the board regarding an issue with activities at Pierce Creek and an interaction she had with member of the Page County Conservation Board.
Jordan said she attended the October Conservation Board meeting to share some concerns she had with the maintenance of the horseback trails at Pierce Creek. She provided the Board of Supervisors with copies of the minutes of that meeting as well as the November meeting where a board member commented on her issues and a statement she presented in December.
“October is when I went in and spoke to the Conservation Board and talked about concerns I have, but also the wonderful improvements made at the park this last summer and fall,” Jordan said.
Jordan said she “must of hit a nerve” because during the November meeting a board member commented on the remarks she made the month before. Jordan said she was not in attendance, but she considered it “malicious” since they were recorded in the minutes of the meeting and published online.
“I wanted to go on record and say I believe that the comments this board member made were intended to discredit me both personally and to the horse community in general. I think it’s an age-old feud and I just kind of got drug into it. I don’t appreciate it. I feel the comments were libelous. They were false and called my honesty and integrity into question, and even accused me of breaking the law,” Jordan said.
Therefore, Jordan said she believes the board member should resign. Furthermore, Jordan encouraged the Board of Supervisors to more carefully consider the people appointed to the Conservation Board in the future.
No action was taken by the Board of Supervisors regarding the issue.
In other business Tuesday, the board approved the appointment of Gail Wallin to the Page County Magistrate Commission to fill a vacancy created by the resignation of Kim Thummel. Jeannine Liljedahl was also reappointed to the commission.
Both individuals will serve a six-year term. Morris said the commission assists with the interview process for magistrate judges in the district as well as associate district judges.
“It just so happens that they do have an associate judge that is being considered to being added to the Fourth District Court. This group will be involved, probably in late January, in that interview process,” Morris said.
The board also approved the renewal of a 28E agreement with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources to allow the Environmental Health Office to do the permitting of wells. The agreement was last approved in 2016 and lasts for five years.