CRESTON, Iowa — Violent storms passing through southwestern Iowa on Monday night caused eight turbines at the Rolling Bluffs wind farm to rupture, spilling catastrophic quantities of air into the surrounding countryside.
Residents awoke on Tuesday to a gruesome tableau of plants, animals, and buildings covered in a thick layer of air as far as the eye could see. Local farmer Ned Price said it was the worst devastation he’d ever witnessed.
“We’ve had tornadoes pass through and do a lot of damage, but this is different,” said Price. “I have 350 acres of corn, and I might have to dispose of the entire crop. And that’s just this year—who knows what effect all this air will have on the soil?”
Emergency crews from Union County Energy Cooperative, which owns the wind farm, have worked continuously since Tuesday morning to repair the damage. A UCEC spokesperson apologized for the incident, but commended the cleanup workers for their bravery, saying that each crew member had been placed on a strict daily exposure limit and was being closely monitored for signs of air sickness.
A task force from the Iowa Department of Natural Resources arrived in Creston on Tuesday to set up wildlife cleanup stations. Residents have been urged to contact the DNR immediately upon encountering an injured animal rather than personally attempting to provide assistance.
“I know how heartbreaking it can be to come upon a bird or a small mammal drenched in air and clinging to life,” said field operations specialist Jane Crawley, “but the truth is that such animals require professional attention to have any chance of survival.”
Republican presidential candidates on the campaign trail in Iowa took the opportunity to reaffirm their support for traditional fossil fuels. Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, who donned protective gear for a personal tour of the disaster site, condemned wind farms as a “reckless experiment putting livelihoods at risk,” asserting that “the science isn’t settled” about the composition of the atmosphere.
Eric Stassen’s body is 78% nitrogen.
Image by Jeff Kubina.