Axios Des Moines

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Hey, hey, Thursday!

⛅️ Weather: Breezy and mostly cloudy with a high of 66Β°.

πŸŽ‚ Happy birthday to our Axios Des Moines member Patricia Houlihan!

Today's Smart Brevityβ„’ count is 622 words β€” a 2-minute read.

1 big thing: Iowa's home insurance "wreck"

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Iowa and the Midwest are a "wreck" right now when it comes to home insurance, says Jeff Weddle, general manager of Guardian Mutual Insurance Association in Dallas Center.

Why it matters: Iowans are paying big costs to ensure their homes are insured or they're holding off from buying homes entirely, partly due to rising premiums.

How it started: The 2020 and 2021 derechos, as well as several major hail storms in Iowa, caused reinsurance companies to up their prices β€” resulting in a trickle down to insurance companies and subsequently, homeowners, Weddle says.

The big picture: Much of the increase in the cost of homeowners insurance is linked to climate change, including costly extreme weather events in the U.S. like wildfires in Colorado and hurricanes in Florida.

  • In 2023, 28 weather disasters caused at least $1 billion in damages.
  • That trumped a record, adjusted for inflation, going back to 1980, according to government data.

What they're saying: Recent headlines have reported home insurance nightmares for customers in Texas and California, but Iowa is "probably pretty close," Weddle says.

What you're saying: Several Axios Des Moines readers have struggled dealing with their home insurance recently.

  • Shane O'Malley of Waukee was denied a claim for hail damage on his roof, even though two separate roofers verified the damage. He ended up paying $25K out of pocket.
  • A company declined to insure one of reader Merle Walters' properties due to a tree branch, which was resolved when he had the limb removed.

What's next: Weddle is hopeful prices will decline if Iowa doesn't have major severe storms.

  • "We just need another year or two of average weather," he says.

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2. "Memory cafes" at Des Moines libraries

Illustration: Allie Carl/Axios

The Des Moines Public Library recently launched monthly "memory cafes" β€” casual, social gatherings for people with dementia and their caregivers.

Why it matters: The space is meant to be a fun, social environment for people to connect β€” it's not a support group or a day care.

State of play: Jes McCauley, a Des Moines librarian, helped start the local program after learning about memory cafes in other cities.

  • Beyond having a place for people with dementia to connect, it's also a safe environment for their "care partners" to be around people in similar roles.

Zoom in: During the first meeting last month at Franklin Avenue Library, there were puzzles geared towards people with memory loss, as well as free snacks and beverages.

  • McCauley envisions incorporating more activities as the initiative grows.

If you go: Tomorrow at the North Side Library from 2-4pm.

  • Future events will be held at Franklin Avenue Library.

3. The Ear: Catch up on the news

Illustration: Allie Carl/Axios

πŸ†• A new sensory wall is being unveiled at Raccoon River Valley Park in West Des Moines. (KCCI)

πŸ— The Commons at Highland Park will include apartments, a restaurant and retail space where the Highland Apartments building was demolished last year. (WOI-TV)

πŸ₯‰ Ankeny native Justin Phongsavanh, a Paralympic bronze medalist and seated javelin world record holder, is competing in the Drake Relays' first javelin throwing event today at 5:50pm. (WHO-13)

  • β˜”οΈ Starting Friday, the relays are expected to face some rainy weather, which is par for the course for the April event. (Des Moines Register)

🌑️ Avian influenza is now being found in some mammals, prompting testing for dairy cattle before they are transported out of state. (Iowa Capital Dispatch)

πŸŽ“ Harry Bookey, founder of BH Companies, and Alicia Knapp, president of BHE Renewables, were inducted into Roosevelt High School's Hall of Fame.

4. Where's Jason?

Photo: Jason Clayworth/Axios

πŸ“§ You know how this works! Hit reply and correctly guess Jason's location and we'll add you to a drawing for a free Axios shirt!

  • Check back tomorrow for the answer and a story about this spot.

πŸ”₯ Linh wants to give up her burning bush for something new.

πŸ‘† Jason is fascinated that Polk County put a buyback bounty on burning bushes and Callery pear trees!

This newsletter was copy edited by Lucia Maher.