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A Hot Project On A Cold Day

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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - With about a dozen people inside a flood-damaged property in the Time Check neighborhood, Camille Koeneke admits she drives by the house and dreams of the day she turns the key and the home is hers.

"Hopefully, the spring," said Koeneke. "Maybe May."

Koeneke is a few months from moving into this single-family home in the 1100 block of 10th Street NW in Cedar Rapids with her 4-year-old son and her boyfriend. Like so many homes in the neighborhood, the Flood of 2008 left its mark.

Yet, even in the dead of winter and on one of the coldest mornings of the season, crews are pounding and hammering the inside. Workers and volunteers with the Cedar Valley Habitat For Humanity are now working all throughout the year, not just the familiar scene of crews putting up the side of a house under the blazing summer sun.

"This is proof that we can build houses and rehab houses in sub-zero temperatures," said Jeff Capps, executive director with the Cedar Valley Habitat for Humanity. "The first couple of years, we were so productive and did so many houses that the work pretty much stopped in October.

Walking through the house on Thursday morning, with the wind chill piercing negative numbers, the workload is still copious. Imagine a house that is a mere shell of the finished product, only with windows, studs and steps while a large heater pumps out hot air for the people inside.

"There was tons of stuff in the basement from the flood," said Koeneke. "We're going to paint the basement and there will be a couple of extra rooms upstairs and it will just come out wonderful."

Capps hopes that people will consider making some time during the upcoming Super Bowl Sunday to consider donations to help keep projects like this home possible. The website: offers more information for people with Super Bowl parties that day to raise funds for the program.

For what Koeneke's house will actually look like in the coming months, Capps points to a finished home about 300 feet away, on 9th Street SW. A single-family house that looks close to brand new and is expected to have a new homeowner close on it within weeks.

"It's great this winter," said Koeneke. "We have these volunteers and they don't want to quit. They want to work year-around and we keep them engaged. It's awesome."

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