In times of hardship and despair, there is always a sense of hope as people come together to overcome, and more often than not, roofing contractors are among those lending a hand.
Such is the case in Iowa, where a derecho storm that hit the Midwest between Aug. 10-11 caused widespread damage to homes, toppled trees, destroyed fields of crops and left many without power. Derechos are a type of straight-line wind storm, and in this case, it generated winds at speeds reaching 126 mph as well as tornadoes. It covered roughly 800 miles and left a swath of destruction across Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Nebraska and Wisconsin. Four people died and nearly two million were without power for days across all states.
Cedar Rapids, Iowa was one of the hardest-hit areas. Adjutant General Benjamin Corell, commander of the Iowa National Guard, compared the damage to what he saw in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
Garry Mattix, co-owner of Iowa Legends Roofing & Remodeling in Altoona, said the pictures his staff and crews are sending back to the office from the area are heartbreaking. He said in addition to contracted work, they’ve been tarping people’s homes free of charge to lend a hand.
“It’s definitely been crazy, to say the least,” Mattix said. “It’s pretty much a Category 3, and in some cases a Category 4 hurricane in the middle of the country.”
Areas further south, like the Gulf of Mexico — which is expected to bear the brunt of tropical storms Laura and Marco this week — are more suited to withstand the damage after decades of experience and preparation.
“This was unexpected. Here in Florida we’re used to the 100 mph wind, but when you face that kind of wind in Iowa, it’s a different event,” said Cotney Construction Law CEO Trent Cotney, who’s based in Tampa. “A lot of the structures aren’t necessarily built to withstand that kind of intense wind.
“A lot of contractors are working around the clock, like a bomb went off,” he continued. “Every type of facility, whether it’s a mall or an office building, along with almost every residential structure, there has some kind of damage. And they are having a tough time getting materials and getting production going.”
With pre-pandemic inventories either depleted or already in the market, and unavoidable slowdowns in the supply chain due to some COVID-19 shutdowns, contractors were talking about stressed supply lines prior to the derecho.
“There are some valid concerns with supply chain,” said Michael Carver, a national accounts representatives with Beacon Building Products. “The industry had it rough from the end of March and into April and we kicked right into storm season. It was a huge challenge and our contractors had to adapt.”
Like other roofing companies, Iowa Legends considered the storm a double-edged sword, as they’ve taken on so much work they have to start turning it down, but they’re sad to see so much damage done to people’s homes. That’s why the company, founded in fall 2019, is doing its part to help.
Iowa Legends Roofing & Remodeling is sponsoring a T-shirt fundraiser with 100% of the net proceeds donated to the Carson King Foundation for derecho relief and recovery efforts. So far the fundraiser has collected more than $40,000.
Those with keen memories may recall Carson King as the “Busch Light Guy” who famously raised more than $3 million after creating a sign that read “Busch Light Supply Needs Replenished” and included his Venmo account info, which was then displayed on ESPN’s “College GameDay” show. King donated all of the money to the University of Iowa's Stead Children's Hospital, and has since started the Carson King Foundation.
Iowa Legends Roofing & Remodeling’s other co-owner is King’s brother, Josh King, and Carson has joined the ranks of the roofing company. Together, they’re teaming up to help give back as a roofing company and hope to show what they’re made of during this time of recovery.
“It’s been a crazy beginning,” said Mattix, noting the company opened months before the COVID-19 pandemic. “But we’re doing well, for a start-up company I don’t think it could’ve gone any better.”