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A Cedar Rapids Woman Who Gave Birth To Twins During The Derecho Shares Her Story

The 'derecho babies' in front of damage from the storm
Kenzy Benton
The 'derecho babies' sit near damage from the storm.

Being a mother of three can mean life isn’t all that calm. But some days are more chaotic than others.

And when Kenzy Benton gave birth to twins during the 2020 derecho, the word she used to describe the day was "chaos." Kenzy shared her story with IPR, with occasional input from the 'derecho babies,' as the family calls them.

This transcript has been edited for length and clarity.

“I was already nervous about the potential of delivering twins. And then with the storm – I’m not a huge fan of storms.”

“We were in triage. A nurse kind of like, ran into our room and looked a little bit panicked. And she said, ‘there’s a storm coming. We're not quite sure how severe it is, and why don't you guys just hold tight?’ So I think that was at that point that I called my mom and I said, ‘Hey, you know, the nurse had said that there's a storm coming, how does it look outside?’ And my mom was like, ‘yeah, but we're safe, you know, everything's okay.’ And then the room we were in, the lights kind of started flickering. So I was like, ‘Ethan, Why don't you go check in the hallway?’ So he kind of opens the door and checked in the hallway, and that's when we just heard — chaos.”

“Lots of yelling, we heard nurses running down the hallway, back and forth. There was one voice that we heard that said, ‘the window is out in my office, there's water pouring in!’ And I mean, it was just chaos. I’m still on the phone with my mom, and she's just trying to keep me calm, just saying, ‘I think it's going to be fine. Everything looks okay, we're in the basement. Emmy,’ – my daughter – ‘is safe. You just focus on what you need to focus on.’ She's like walking me through everything. So then finally, the nurses come back, and they said, ‘Yeah, we're moving everyone to the basement.’”

Kenzy Benton
"Our daughter wasn't able to come in and visit us but they found a way to come and see us through the window."

“So we went down to the basement. All of the new moms, new families who had just had babies are all sitting in this giant circle in this completely dark room. And all of the doctors and the nurses were in the basement with us, doing their absolute best to keep calm and to keep us calm. At one point, one of the doctors came by and said, ‘we’ve moved down a delivery bed, so if worse comes to worst, we'll be able to deliver you down here.’ There’s no way! I'm not delivering two babies in the middle of a room with dozens of strangers. But it was reassuring to know that if I needed to do that we could.”

“So I kind of let one of the nurses know that I felt like I was getting a little bit closer. This was probably an hour into being in the basement? And then I said, Okay, I really feel a lot of pressure. And so they said, Alright, we're going to get you upstairs.”

“All of the computer systems were down. So the nurses that were with me had to handwrite all of their notes. Anytime a new doctor would come in, they would have to sit and read through these handwritten notes about what had happened, what my history was, all of the above.”

“All the intercom systems, everything was down. They literally had to have nurses running from room to room to room to communicate. But because of the power outage or whatever, something was kind of malfunctioning. And so we heard all of the emergency room calls overhead. So we would just constantly hear call after call after call, of needing more doctors to come up to certain levels, certain floors, to assist with injuries and assist with whatever car accidents, things like that. And it was just a nonstop flow of sirens.”

“We went into this room with a bunch of doctors and nurses everywhere. First one came out, and then they put her on my chest. Four minutes later, I pushed out the second one. and they were healthy and great.”

“Because it was the pandemic, our daughter wasn't able to come in and visit us, but they found a way to come and see us through the window. And then at that point, they kind of started to tell us what it was like outside. – ‘trees down everywhere. It's the worst storm we've ever seen. Houses have trees on them and have siding and roofs off. Worse than a tornado' is kind of what they were saying. But at the same time they were trying not to tell us too much. I think they wanted us to kind of be able to stay in our baby bubble and not feel too worried yet. So I don't think we knew a whole lot at that point.”

“Coming out of the hospital, it was like a whole new world to us. Seeing for the first time all the damage, it was really hard to process and take in. We had no power at our house, so we moved in with my in-laws for two weeks, with the new babies and my daughter, and then switched over to my parents’ house. They finally got power back, and we moved in with them for them another week or two before we finally got to go to our house.”

“I mean, we were getting test text messages from neighbors that were checking in on us and making sure we were okay and if we needed help. Just everyone coming together and checking in on each other when they were able to and doing things like that. We saw that everywhere. I mean, people were just trying to do anything that they could for people.”

“It'll probably be something we talked about every single year, especially once they start understanding. They gave us something, to focus on in the middle of the pandemic and the derecho. They brought us all together and in such a joyful way. So I think that that will be one way that I really focus on – is that they were just such a blessing during a crazy storm.”

If you have a story about the 2020 derecho that you'd like to share with IPR, you can email iowaamplified@iowapublicradio.org.

Caitlin Troutman is a talk show producer at Iowa Public Radio