By David Paulsen
Episcopal News Service

Episcopal congregations in Iowa are helping their neighbors rebound from a devastating windstorm that hit last week with the force of a hurricane, downing trees, damaging homes and businesses, knocking out power for about a half million residents and destroying about 10 million acres of farmland in the state.

The Diocese of Iowa also has issued a call for donations to support relief efforts after the Aug. 10 straight-line windstorm, known as a “derecho,” which has been blamed for at least three deaths. Winds in some places were reported to have topped 100 mph during the storm.

“The damage is so massive, it is hard to accurately wrap your head around it,” said the Rev. Meg Wagner, the diocese’s communications missioner. Communities had no warning, as they would with the approach of a hurricane, she told Episcopal News Service in an email, and the damage spans many counties, as opposed to the narrow path typically cut by a tornado.

Most of the diocese’s church buildings made it through the storm untouched or with only minor damage, Wagner said. Many congregations have reported downed trees on church property.

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