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2020 Derecho Stories

“We are living in historic times.”  It seems like every time I turn on the television in 2020, I hear the word “historic.” “Historic times” seems to mean everything changed.  It certainly seems like things have changed.


My wife and I have lived in our house for less than a year. When the derecho hit our area last week, we lost a pair of 100+ year-old oak trees, among many others on our property. To some, they were just trees. We should be thankful, right? We have our health, our safety, relatively minor property damage… we’re just minus a few plants that we had owned less than a year, basically.


But we are grieving. It is amazing to us how much these trees have witnessed.  They were seedlings when the 19th Amendment was passed.  They’ve seen the river rise countless times, and even though the trees were perched on a substantial hill, the flood of 2008 rose very close to their roots.  These trees provided an enormous canopy that turned our home into a tree-house like setting.  It was only a week before the derecho that we hung a hammock on the branches, my wife’s new favorite place to read. 


And then, in an instant, the trees are gone. Along with pieces of our local past that have connected us for decades. Sometimes “change” means loss. 


A few days after the storm, I saw my wife searching the internet for trees.  She wants to find a type of tree that will replace the ones we lost, and choose a variety that will be more enduring for those who will come after us.  She wants to leave a legacy. After all, what is a legacy if not for something that the past gives the future, right?


Many of you are grieving just as we are. We at The History Center (Linn County Historical Society) want to collect your photos and hear your stories as part of our collective healing process – and as a way to share this moment with future generations. Show and tell us about what you’ve lost, help us memorialize damaged local landmarks (and yes, trees), and share with us your stories of our community coming together to help one another. We will collect these stories and photos to share back with you, our community.  To share your stories and photos, simply click the link below to upload your photos. Be sure to include the name of the photographer, names of people in each photo, location or landmark being photographed, and why the subject is meaningful to you. Your lens of what Linn County lost in the derecho will help us to tell a more complete story of the impact on our community.

Change may mean loss.  However, our loss is a chance to for all of us to leave a legacy – a gift of our story –  for future generations.  

Jason Wright 

Executive Director of The History Center

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