REM Iowa Comes Together in the Wake of “Treemageddon”
17 August 2013
Sunday, May 19, 2013 will be forever etched in the memories of the individuals residing at REM Iowa’s Intermediate Care Facility in Cedar Rapids, as well as the employees who support the program.
The facility was hit particularly hard by the straight-line winds that came through the area that night. Unlike with tornados, there was no siren to sound a warning of potential danger. Three massive cottonwood trees were blown onto the property. The first tree crashed through the roof and into one of the bedrooms where program participants happened to be sleeping—approximately three feet under the area where the tree landed. The other two trees came down on the roof, fence, facility van and the shed, causing extensive damage. One supervisor aptly coined this day “Treemageddon.”
“The miracle in all of this is that all eight residents, including the person who woke up to a tree hovering precariously above them, were unharmed,” Dawn Steffen, a REM Iowa ICF regional director, said. “For those who saw how close the tree was to the sleeping individual, it’s unbelievable that no one was injured. Regardless of your beliefs, it seems as if a higher power was at work—one that ensured the safety of those in the facility at the time of this storm.”
It is also believed that the calm demeanor and rational thinking of Trisha Bucknell, a direct support professional (DSP) who was the only staff working when the storm hit, helped immensely to ensure that those present remained calm and were reassured that they were safe. The arduous task of removing the enormous trees from the property began the next day. There were employees from all levels that came to help support the clean-up efforts in the coming weeks—DSPs, nurses, supervisors, maintenance personnel, directors, support personnel, as well as those from other programs and business units within REM. All of these individuals worked with a common goal in mind.
A long, demanding clean-up process ended July 5, when the individuals were able to return to their home.
“The REM Iowa family wanted to say thank you to all of its wonderful staff, vendors and everyone that assisted in the restoration process,” Dawn said.