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Derecho-damaged tree finds new home for the holidays

KCCI Des Moines logo KCCI Des Moines 12/15/2020
a blue sign in front of a building: Derecho-damaged tree © KCRG Derecho-damaged tree

A tree that was damaged, but not destroyed, in the August derecho now has a new home.

KCRG reports the blue spruce was damaged at Cheryl Fiala’s home in Cedar Rapids during the storm. It was one that her family had been decorating for Christmas for years. Other than being blown over, the tree was still in one piece, but it couldn’t be replanted.

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Fiala went to the internet to offer the tree, too large to fit in a living room, in an effort to keep the tradition going.

“I posted it on the Derecho resource site that the tree was available,” Fiala said. “If anybody wanted to use it as a Christmas tree, we would keep it alive the best we could until it was time to harvest it in December.”

First Congregational United Church of Christ, located at 361 17th St. SE, took Fiala up on her offer and gave the tree a new home. It’s now braced and standing outside of the building for Christmas. 

Melanie Van Weelden, the church’s lead minister, said this particular tree holds an even more important meaning this year.

“Our church has damage from the storm. Many of us, myself included, have homes that were damaged in the storm,” Van Weelden said. “And we’ve all been trying to endure and persevere. And this is a great metaphor for, you know, we’ve gone through some difficult times, but we’re still standing here trying to light up this world.”

The church plans to hold a tree-lighting ceremony during their Christmas Eve service.


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