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Van Horne couple finds the positives after facing health issues and personal losses in 2020

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VAN HORNE, Iowa (KWWL) - Many farms along Highway 30 lost grain bins, barns and homes after the derecho wreaked havoc in Iowa August 10. One of the worst hit was 2 Jo's farm in Van Horne.

“This was all completely covered. You could not move or get around,” Jodi Phillip told KWWL as she showed the damage on their farm.

For Jodi and John Phillip, the year started with the news of major health problems. One battling a brain tumor, the other stage 4 cancer. Then, starting in March, lost business due to the pandemic. And finally in August, their farm was destroyed by the derecho.

Fortunately, though, their bed and breakfast in Chelsea was spared. It suffered some damage, but the Periwinkle Bed and Breakfast/Murder Mystery was standing. Always two to find the positives in life, Jodi and John quickly made the decision it should be a place for storm clean-up volunteers to stay.

“We were housing volunteer people at the bed and breakfast that have been coming in and helping in Cedar Rapids and other areas.”

This kindness is well-known to many who know Jodi and John. The two dress up as Santa & Mrs. Claus during the holidays, bringing their reindeer from the farm all over Iowa to spread holiday cheer. It's the same kindness they showed the volunteers they housed, which was then given to them in return.

“The lady said to me, she said 'why don't we come help you at your farm on Sunday?' And I said, 'well, because you're here to help people that need it,' and she said, 'I think you need it.'"

Volunteers cleaned up most of the debris, so John and Jodi could at least get around their farm. Now they're waiting on their insurance to get back to them.

“I haven’t heard anything yet and, of course, they would like us to fill out papers, you know, for everything you own. That’s a little tough when you’re looking at flat buildings everywhere to remember 30 years of your life.”

Despite their struggles, they keep their positive attitudes. Jodi says she hopes everyone can get through the hard times the derecho brought to Iowa.

“When this hit, everybody came together. I mean, that was inspiring,” she said with a hopeful smile.

Jodi and John have been living out of their bed and breakfast because their home is currently unlivable. A GoFundMe page has been set-up to help the couple with their numerous losses. Click here to help out Jodi and John.

KWWL photojournalist Kennedy DeRaedt gathered the material for this story.

Abby Turpin

Evening Anchor

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