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Iowa Derecho Storm


Total damage

Over 250,000 Alliant Energy customers without power.

Total material

Over 80 truckloads of material received and unloaded by Border States personnel.


On-site staffing, material storage and delivery, emergency response and virtual war room.

A rare and powerful storm known as a “derecho” (from the Spanish word “straight”) developed in eastern Nebraska and ran across Iowa, Illinois and northern Indiana on August 10, 2020. In the wake of the storm were downed power lines, trees, torn-off roofs, vehicles blown off roads and flattened grain storage bins and silos. This storm left over 250,000 Alliant Energy customers without power.

Alliant’s challenge was an aggressive goal set by Iowa’s governor, Kim Reynolds, to have access to power for 90% of customers within eight days after the storm. Alliant responded by bringing in over 1,200 linemen and vegetation management personnel.


Within hours of the storm, Border States mobilized resources to support the restoration efforts. Our Cedar Rapids, Iowa, branch also received damage. Long sheets of vertical siding were torn off and needed to be repaired for safety and protection of the employee-owners. There was no power at the site, hampering logistics and warehouse functions. With forklifts needing to be charged nightly, a large generator was brought in from Minnesota to help facilitate operations.


Usually, Border States would set up a “war room” where employee-owners converge to organize and execute sourcing and logistics of inbound material. During the pandemic, this was not practical, so a virtual war room was initiated using a newly implemented Microsoft Teams application. This allowed personnel from across the entirety of Border States to lend a hand with the emergency response efforts. The volume of materials needed to restore Alliant’s systems required immediate picking and outbound logistics support. Many volunteers from regional operations and over 24 Border States’ locations assisted with the response, and at least 56 truckloads of material were sent to meet Alliant’s needs.


Over the course of the storm response, more than 500 unique material IDs were sourced, procured, received, inventoried and delivered to Alliant locations. Manufacturers shipped while employee-owners received and unloaded over 80 truckloads of materials. Although the warehouse was picking materials as fast as possible, the time to load, transport to drop sites — sometimes as far as three hours away — and unload the materials at those locations were straining the supply chain. After the first few days, we collaborated with Alliant and engaged Alliant personnel to establish the priorities for material during the remainder of the restoration.