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Camp Mitigwa derecho damage (Woodward, IA)

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August 10,2020: derecho heavily damaged Camp Mitigwa (Mid-Iowa Council) just eight days after the last campers left.

Sept 5, 2020: two construction companies Fareway and Dean Snyder Construction have each committed to fully fund ($40K) construction of a new storm shelter at Mitigwa. Each shelter will have a capacity of 40 campers.

Mitigwa was the only Scout summer camp open in Iowa this year, hosting nearly 1,000 boys, girls and adult leaders without any COVID cases. An additional 10 storm shelters are needed to sustain campers when Mitigwa is at full capacity.


I had thought building camp tornado shelters were a priority these past 12 years after the Little Sioux Scout Ranch tragedy which also occurred in Iowa.

June 11, 2008:  Four scouts died when a 165 mph  tornado tore through the Little Sioux Scout Ranch in western IowaThere was no basement or in-ground shelter at the camp when the tornado hit.

2009: Mid-America Council launched a major fundraising campaign to build emergency shelters at all of its camps.

2009: National acquires West Virginia property - Summit Bechtel Reserve

2013: two tornado shelters built at Little Sioux and a siren was added. The new structures have concrete walls, steel shutters and doors and emergency power backup, and were built to withstand an EF5 tornado.

2013: 18th National Scout Jamboree held at Summit Bechtel

Be prepared.

Edited by RememberSchiff
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MidAmerican Energy announced Friday it will donate $125,000 to build another two shelters at the reservation.

Scout executive and CEO Matt Hill said since becoming CEO in 2018, one of his priorities has been adding shelters to the camp, but his attention diverted when the pandemic started. 

"When the weather event (derecho) happened, then that kind of re-sparked the momentum I guess for it," Hill said. "It's unfortunate that a weather event like that could have been a tragedy is what it takes to get this going. But at the same time, I guess it's a silver lining."

As a result of the derecho, the Mid-Iowa Council needs to raise $1.2 million to cover the damages, spokesman Dan Gelis said. The building with the most damage was the Blank Dining Hall which had extensive roof damage, Gelis said. 

Source with storm damage photos:


Edited by RememberSchiff
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  • 9 months later...

Update 7/10/2021:

On Friday afternoon, more than 200 Scouts and staff at the Mitigwa Scout Reservation used the new seven concrete-enforced shelters, which were completed last month, to wait out a storm with dangerous wind speeds and hail.

The renovations were made possible by the "Mitigwa Strong" fundraising campaign... In addition to building the new storm shelters, the Mid-Iowa Council replaced roofs, cleared trees and branches and replaced the camp's shooting range, mitigating destruction from the derecho.

Council leaders still hope to raise $672,000 through the campaign, according to Friday's news release, to support the addition of more storm shelters, other renovations and replacements for camp facilities, and to replant lost trees.



Edited by RememberSchiff
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  • 1 month later...

Addendum 8/13/2021:

Deadline: 8/20/2021

About a week is left for Iowa’s cities, counties and groups like the Boy Scouts to apply for state grants to plant trees as part of the recovery process from last year’s derecho. The Iowa state legislature is allocating $250,000 for the Derecho Community Forestry Grant Program.

The grants range from $500 to $5,000 and are to be used to buy and plant trees suitable to Iowa on publicly-owned lands. That can include all sorts of places like street right-of-ways, parks, school grounds, courthouse lawns, fairgrounds, cemeteries, libraries and trails. Trees are an underrated commodity, Edwards says, and few people seem to appreciate them until they’re gone.

Some Iowa communities lost more than half of their canopies in the powerful storm on August 10th of last year. As new trees are planted, Edwards says there’s an emphasis on diversity in species, as she says a diverse canopy will be a resilient canopy.

“We can notice in the communities that were hit very hard, there are certain species that did well and certain species didn’t,” Edwards says. “Maples are weaker-branched trees and they’re more likely to lose limbs in big wind storms like this, versus and an oak or a hickory that has stronger branches that can withstand that.”

She says Iowa is overplanted with maples and people should consider other options, including the black locust, honey locust and hackberry trees. Grant recipients are required to provide a dollar-for-dollar cash match as part of the program.


Hmm I am puzzled by this. In New England, we are planting certain evergreens to dissipate (sway) not block (good luck) high winds as common white pines have not endured the higher winds of last decade. Norway spruce, white cedar, and arborvitae are planted for wind breaks here. These also grow faster than oak or hickory. Agree about maple.  My $0.02.



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