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An Update on Nauvoo following the Derecho

Updated: Oct 9, 2023

On June 29th, 2023, Nauvoo was hit with a massive storm called a derecho (definition: a line of intense, widespread, and fast-moving windstorms and thunderstorms that move across a great distance and is characterized by damaging winds). It developed quickly and the city of Nauvoo had only 20 minutes notice before the town was hit by the 120mph winds that raced across the town for over 30 minutes.

The summer in Nauvoo was already in full swing, even without the pageant performances happening Tuesday-Saturday. Youth groups were exploring the historic sites, taking pictures at the temple, and even pulling handcarts down Parley Street. Families were playing at the parks, touring with the missionaries, shopping around Nauvoo, and eating at a few of the restaurants in town. No one knew the storm was coming, and no one was prepared for how quickly the weather changed.

The Mississippi River is often the great decider when it comes to how storms develop in Nauvoo, and though we have faced strong winds and mild damage, the river often slows or breaks any storms before they hit us. This time, however, the river magnified the wind speeds and suddenly a severe thunderstorm warning became a derecho.

In the 20 minutes we had before the storm hit, everyone sheltered where they could, taking cover in garages, barns, basements, hotels, the Temple, and even bathrooms. It was a miracle that people, especially tourists to Nauvoo, were able to find places to shelter in such a short amount of time.

Once the storm passed, the question became: where do we go from here?

Damage was everywhere. Trees were gone - they were twisted, bent, snapped off, and uprooted even. It looked like a massive bulldozer had hit the trees of Nauvoo. Homes lost roofs, windows, siding, and were buried under the debris. Every aspect of the town was impacted by the intense storm, and all of its residents were left without power, phone lines, and internet for over 24 hours. Some did not receive power for weeks.

With no power, no internet, and a lot of questions on where to start, everyone (including tourists and the visiting youth groups) got to work to help clean up the downed trees and help Nauvoo recover what they could. The greatest miracle of the storm was that no one was fatally injured.

Even now, Nauvoo is still reeling from and cleaning up the damage from the storm. It certainly has not been the same town this summer as it normally is, and we have watched as the wreckage from the storm is gradually cleared away. The pageant still occurred as schedule and the whole town continued to prepare for the summer despite all of the damage.

None of us expected a derecho to hit Nauvoo, and it has given all of the city of Nauvoo an opportunity to come together and serve each other. There have been many blessings and many struggles brought on by the storm, and we are grateful that no one was hurt in the storm. Now, all that is left to do is to put the broken pieces back together and we can't wait to see what Nauvoo looks like then.

While we may have postponed our first initial sessions of the Nauvoo Discovery Program, we have been able to take time and reflect on how this program can work with Nauvoo more closely and witness the power of when locals and visitors come together for the same cause. We cannot wait to share Nauvoo with you. It is a beautiful, small town with an incredible history and even more incredibly potential for the future. So, we hope to see you in Nauvoo soon and be able to share with you the vision, the hopes, and the dreams.

Should you have any questions, want more information about the program, or need any help with applying, please contact us!

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